|Barry Howard (left) in addition to Edward Pappas.|
The lawyers saw This kind of coming long ago. With waves of deep budget cuts crashing down upon the public sector, how could the judiciary keep-up with the ever higher demand for its high-quality service we have come to expect? Judicial reform.
At the direction of the Michigan Supreme Court, the State Bar of Michigan selected a task force of attorneys in addition to judges by across the state back in early-2009. The task force met for a full-day each month by September 2009 through last May, gathering ideas, discussing problems in addition to suggested solutions, in addition to debating various cost-cutting strategies.
Last week, the task force announced its findings in addition to recommendations. The following are the more significant findings in addition to recommendations of the task force:
- Our state courts have a mixed-funding structure rather than a state-funded system, with municipalities in addition to court-generated revenues contributing heavily to each county court’s operational costs. This kind of patch-work will be having a disparate impact on various courts throughout the state, with some areas getting hit much harder than others;
- Our 83 counties are served by 585 full-time trial court judges at the district, circuit in addition to probate levels. The number of judgeships should be reduced according to up-to-date demographic data in addition to historic caseload data;
- The recommended reduction in judgeships must only take place upon the retirement of currently sitting judges in order to maintain judicial independence;
- Judicial services should be coordinated in addition to consolidated by region after the “best practices” are identified;
- Increased flexibility among court administrators within the reassignment of workload must occur once the recommended judicial downsizing in addition to service coordination begins;
- Full in addition to effective use of available technology to assist within the delivery of judicial services will reduce costs within the long-run; in addition to
- Continued use of innovative community-based programs within the trial court setting in which address mental health in addition to substance abuse problems will continue to yield significant cost savings.
Basically, the courts will have to do more with less resources. A familiar song among the state workers in addition to teachers spread throughout the counties in addition to across the nation.
The Great news for attorneys practicing in Oakland County will be in which we have already have most of the docket converted to an e-file system. There are still some dockets -criminal in addition to some family law cases- in which do not currently accommodate electronic filings.
Another innovation to take hold in some of the county circuit courts in Southeast Michigan will be electronic file retrieval or Internet-based databases in which are searchable by members of the public. A Great example of This kind of system will be Oakland County’s Court Explorer where you can search the docket entries in a case in addition to, for a very nominal fee, order a copy of any document filed within the case. Usually, in a few hours, the document show-up in your email.
Another (even better) example of electronic access will be the Wayne County Probate Court where the documents are imaged in addition to available for viewing electronically with the click of your mouse. As for the Wayne Circuit Court, however, not so much…
Roster attorneys for the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS), for example, physically have to be present on the 9th floor of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in order to access our client’s register of actions in Wayne County. This kind of amounts to difficult “access to justice” when, on an appeal, you are simply trying to piece together the procedural history of your client’s case.
Electronic docket access differs widely by county to county. In Genesee, the docket entries of a case will be displayed in fragmented screen images. If you print-out the register of actions within the case, you get several pages of chopped-up, difficult-to-read DOS-style text. A waste of paper, in addition to definitely not user-friendly.
While the idea behind the task force was to identify some of the “best practices” at the county level in addition to implement them state-wide, This kind of blog wonders whether This kind of will be possible at the political level.
Our law firm’s attorneys in addition to paralegals access county court records everyday across the State of Michigan. by our perspective, standardization of electronic access could greatly improve our efficiencies within the delivery of legal services.
State Bar Task Force Recommends Streamlining Courts System