Government & Politics

Annual Report of the Michigan Supreme Court 2007

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Michigan Supreme Court Annual Report openly contradicts Michigan Auditor General Reports of its Child Welfare Program and publicizes fraud in the Message from the Chief Justice Clifford Taylor.
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   ANNUAL REPORT of the Michigan Supreme Court   2007  Cover  :The Michigan Supreme Court during oral argumentin the historic Lapeer County courthouse.The September14,2007 hearing marked the completion ofthecourthouse’s 18-year renovation,and also launched CourtCommunity Connections,a Supreme Court publiceducation program aimed at high school students. Photo credit  :© David House Sr.—Lapeer Photography.  MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT| 2007 ANNUALREPORTi TABLE OF CONTENTS  AMessage from Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor.........................................................................ii2007 Highlights ..........................................................................................................................1Judicial Activity and Caseload Executive Summary .................................................................18Judicial Activity and CaseloadMichigan Supreme Court ...............................................................................................19Court of Appeals ............................................................................................................21Circuit Court ...................................................................................................................24Probate Court ................................................................................................................40District Court .................................................................................................................47Municipal Court ..............................................................................................................59 Appendix: Trial Court Judgeships in Michigan ..........................................................................60  ii Clifford W.Taylor ChiefJustice,Michigan Supreme Court As tough economic times continue in Michigan,it hasbecome commonplace,and indeed trite,for both the publicand private sectors to say that “we are doing more with less.”For Michigan’s judicial branch,“doing more with less”is notjust a catchy phrase,but a daily reality since budget reductionsbegan in fiscal year 2001.In 2007,due to a mid-fiscal year negative supplemental and addi-tional reductions in the FY 2008 budget,judicial branch agencies faceda loss of$3.3 million in general fund appropriations.The brunt ofthesecuts fell on judicial branch operations and employees in the form oflay-offs,unpaid furlough days,and short-term shutdowns at the Court of  Appeals.Despite these difficulties,in 2007 the Michigan judicial branchadvanced some ofthe most innovative projects in its history.InNovember,work began on the first statewide,web-based casemanagement system,which will be available to all Michigan trial courts.Progress continued on the Judicial Data Warehouse,a database of pending and closed cases throughout Michigan,which supports stateefforts ranging from law enforcement to court collections.The state averted the loss ofnearly $40million in child welfare funding,thanks in part to the work ofjudicial branch staff.And MichiganFriend ofthe Court offices continued their diligent work on behalfofthe state’s children,withMichigan ranking sixth in the country in child support distribution and fourth in the more difficultarea ofcollecting and distributing past-due support. The year past also marked what I hope is just the beginning ofa very serious discussion:whetherthe state judiciary should,like so many other institutions,consider downsizing.In August,the State Court Administrative Office’s Judicial Resources Recommendations Reportfound that the state could do with ten fewer trial judgeships,and that the Court ofAppeals couldfunction as effectively,and at less cost,with four fewer judges and additional staff.A majority oftheSupreme Court not only supported those recommendations,but went further in recommending thatthe Legislature eliminate by attrition 20 trial court judgeships,which represented,with the Court of  Appeals reductions,a savings ofmillions oftaxpayer dollars.The surrounding debate may have gen-erated more heat than light,and as ofthe date ofmy writing this,no action has been taken to elim-inate any judgeships,now or in the future.Still,I remain hopeful that we can have a serious discussion about whether Michigan is“overjudged.”While the Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office began theconversation,it remains for others to continue it,and to take action:the number ofstate judgeshipscan be reduced only by the Legislature with the Governor’s approval. There is much talk about streamlining state government,but we need genuine efforts in thatdirection.Otherwise,we deserve the rebuke Abigail Adams aimed at an earlier age:“We have toomany high-sounding words,and too few actions that correspond with them.”  AMESSAGE FROM Chief JusticeClifford W. Taylor 
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