By Tim Martin
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A judicial staffing report issued Wednesday recommends eliminating 49 judgeships in Michigan, including four on the state's court of appeals.
The 2011 version of judicial resources recommendations from the State Court Administrative Office would affect courts across much of Michigan, but would require approval from the state Legislature to become a reality.
"Increasing the size of government is easy," Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. said before unveiling the proposal. "It turns out it takes political courage to reduce it."
The report suggests reducing the ranks of circuit, district and other trial court judges statewide by 45 through attrition. That would be a reduction of nearly 8 percent.
The report identified growing areas in Michigan that would require a combined 31 new judgeships, but the State Court Administrative Office is not recommending any new judgeships at this time because of the state's economic challenges.
The Michigan Court of Appeals would be reduced by four positions through the recommendations, including two spots that already are vacant.
The proposed changes in part reflect population shifts and changing caseload levels in some districts. Michigan is the only state that lost population between 2000 and 2010, according to Census results.
Earlier attempts to eliminate judgeships have been resisted by opponents who say the cuts would overburden the remaining judges or be political unpopular.
Republican state Sen. Rick Jones, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that taxpayers could be saved "a great deal of money by reducing judgeships that are not needed."
Published: Thu, Aug 18, 2011