Net cut of six trial court judgeships recommended


The State Court Administrative Office yesterday released the 2015 Judicial Resources Recommendations, calling for a reduction of nine trial court judgeships and the addition of three, for a net cut of six trial court seats. The biennial report analyzes changes in judicial workloads and recommends the most effective number of trial court and Court of Appeals judges statewide. Combined with previous cuts recommended in the 2011 and 2013 reports, taxpayers will save nearly $200 million once the reductions are fully implemented.

“Our goal is to be the most efficient and responsible stewards of public resources, and judges statewide are committed to sharing resources, eliminating waste, balancing workloads and strengthening our commitment to the highest level of service to the public,” said Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. “We look forward to working with the Legislature as they consider this plan to continue rightsizing Michigan’s judiciary.”

As a result of the 2011 and 2013 reports, the Michigan Legislature approved the elimination of 45 judgeships, including four Court of Appeals seats.  Already, 25 of those seats have been eliminated, saving taxpayers more than $6.1 million since 2011.  Annual savings once all 2011, 2013, and 2015 cuts are implemented are estimated to be $7.4 million.

The Judicial Resources Recommendations report is the result of a detailed statistical analysis that takes into consideration the amount of judicial time needed to handle each case type.  Based on that analysis, courts deemed to have either too many judges or too few judges were studied further to incorporate factors beyond caseloads into the final recommendation. As noted in the accompanying table, five district court seats are slated for elimination while one is added; two circuit court seats are added; and four probate court seats are recommended to be cut.
All reductions are proposed to be accomplished by attrition, when a judge leaves office or dies.