Senate approves Bumstead bills adding judgeship in Muskegon County, restructuring judicial district courts

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Wednesday approved two bills sponsored by Sen. Jon Bumstead to restructure the judicial districts within Newaygo, Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties, and add a judgeship to the 14th Circuit Court in Muskegon County beginning in 2023.

“Adding a judge to Muskegon’s 14th Circuit Court is a necessary addition to ensure county residents have the access to justice they might need,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “Doing so will also ease the increased workload the current judges are handling, which will allow them more time to dedicate to individual cases.”

Every two years the State Court Administrative Office releases a Judicial Resource Recommendations report based on its review of the needs of the Michigan judiciary. The review of trial court judgeships begins with a statistical analysis. Case filings are weighted to reflect the amount of judicial time necessary to handle each case type.

The 2019 report recommended that a judge be added to the 14th Circuit Court in Muskegon County. Senate Bill 694 would add the additional circuit court judge starting on Jan. 1, 2023, bringing the county’s total to five circuit court judges. The initial term would be for eight years to stagger the judgeships, so that no more than two of the judges are up for re-election in the same year.

An additional measure sponsored by Bumstead was also approved. Senate Bill 654 would restructure the judicial districts within Newaygo, Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties. The bill would maintain the same number of judges but establish a more efficient workload while ensuring the best access to justice.

“This is a local solution to an issue identified in the SCAO report,” Bumstead said. “I worked directly with our judges and court administrators in all four counties to come up with a plan to provide the best court case management while being efficient with state and local resources.”

The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.