Chief Justice Young to address House Judiciary Committee

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. and Michigan State Court Administrator Chad C. Schmucker will give a presentation on the 2011 State Court Administrative Office Judicial Resources Recommendations to the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m..

Earlier this year, the SCAO recommended eliminating 45 trial and four Court of Appeals judgeships. The proposal was backed by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Judges Association, Michigan Probate Judges Association, Michigan District Judges Association and the Michigan Judicial Conference.

In addition to Young and Schmucker’s presentation, the committee will consider a package of bills that would implement some of the SCAO’s recommendations:

  • HB 5075 would eliminate a circuit court judgeship in the 27th Circuit, which covers Newaygo and Oceana counties. The bill would also eliminate district judgeships in Lake and Mason counties have the probate judges in those counties also serve as district court judges.
  • HB 5071 would eliminate judgeships in districts of Wexford/Missaukee and Grand Traverse/Antrim/Leelanau counties.
  • HB 5072 would eliminate judgeships in districts of Schoolcraft/Alger, Houghton/Keweenaw/Baraga and Ontonagon/Gogebic counties.
  • HB 5073 would eliminate one district judgeship in Ingham County and two in Genesee County.
  • HB 5074 would eliminate one district judgeship in Shiawassee County.
  • SB 416 would eliminated one circuit court judgeship in the 3rd Judicial Circuit (Wayne County), one district court judgeship in the 26th Judicial District (River Rouge and Ecorse) and one district court judgeship in the 85th Judicial District (Manistee and Benzie Counties).

    The bill also would split the existing 85th Judicial District into two distinct districts: the 85th-A and 85th-B. The 85th-A district would consist of Manistee County, while the 85th-B district would consist of Benzie County. In the 85th-A and 85th-B districts, the existing probate judges would take on the powers and duties of district court judges within their respective counties.

Three other bills that would eliminate other probate, district and circuit court judgeships are pending introduction.

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Bills would streamline adoption process for foster care children

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan have urged legislators to approve bills before both chambers that will streamline the adoption process for children in foster care. The passage of these bills could pave the way for expedited placement in qualified, permanent homes for more than 1,100 children.

Currently, the only person authorized to approve adoptions for children in foster care is the Michigan Children’s Institute (MCI) superintendent. Since April 2010, the MCI superintendent has received 1,100 such cases for approval.

Under the bills, the MCI superintendent, the legal guardian for children committed to MCI when parental rights have been terminated, may authorize a designee to provide written consent to the adoption, marriage, guardianship or emancipation of MCI wards. The designee would be allowed to authorize adoption requests where the child is already living in the recommended adoption home and a review by a caseworker and supervisor has determined there are no concerns about the placement.

Kelly said her experience as a family court judge convinced her that the bills are needed.

“No matter how good a job the MCI superintendent does, he or she is only one person, and it is simply unrealistic to expect one person to perform in-depth reviews of hundreds of these cases each year,” Kelly told legislators.

While finding a permanent, loving home for children in foster care is a key mission for DHS, Corrigan was clear that the expedited process will not sacrifice due diligence in the examination of potential adoptive families. The department will be systematic, careful and considerate when determining who will be named as a designee, Corrigan told members of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services committee.

“The best place for a child is in a stable, permanent home. That is our goal for each of the 4,150 children in foster care available for adoption. Joining a family should not be delayed because only one person in the entire state can authorize a child’s adoption or guardianship,” Corrigan said.

Among the bills’ supporters is the Michigan Probate Judges Association. In a March 15 letter to Sen. Judith Emmons, Judge Dorene Allen, chief judge of the Midland County Probate Court and chair of the MPJA’s Juvenile and Adoption Issues Committee, wrote that the legislation “will facilitate the permanency of children in the abuse and neglect system, certainly a goal we can all agree upon.”

Source: Michigan Department of Human Services