The past year also brought a new Executive Court Administrator Zenell Brown, Friend of the Court Kent Weichmann, General Counsel Richard Lynch, and Chief Financial Officer Violet Leonard.
The four divisions of the court, Civil, Criminal, Family, and Juvenile have managed the dockets in an efficient manner and improved case flow.
The Friend of the Court provided more services with less people than any other Friend of the Court in the State of Michigan.
The Third Judicial Circuit Court has had a productive year in many different areas. One goal of the Court was to improve collections and this occurred in both the Criminal and Juvenile Divisions. In the Juvenile Division, a Collections Unit was added to determine indigency and to obtain non-indigent parties agreement to payment plans. In 2015, the Court is looking to expand its Collection Unit to the Criminal Division.
Jury management and delivery of jury services was also an important project in the past year. A new jury system was implemented in the fall of 2013 and into 2014. Juror utilization was decreased by requiring trial courts to verify the day before a scheduled jury trial that it would actually go. Juror demographics have been satisfactory under the new system. In October, the Court scheduled show cause hearings for jurors who did not appear for service. With the assistance of the media, the Court was able to send a message to the public that juror service is an important civic obligation and it should not be avoided.
Significant changes have occurred with respect to Court Reporting Services. Nine Family Division judges and eight Civil Division judges operated audio/video recording systems. Recording systems were used by the Friend of the Court referees. In 2015, recording systems will be implemented for the Juvenile Division referees.
The use of electronic filing in the Civil Division continued to grow. The Court sought to have E-Filing expanded to the asbestos docket in the Civil Division and to the Criminal and Family Divisions. Due to issues regarding funding E-Filing and whether there should be a State-administered E-Filing system, the State Court Administrative Office has not allowed expansion of E-Filing. However, the Court has continued to move towards a paperless system. The Document Share Program allows district courts to electronically file exam transcripts, appeal transcripts, and court files. A pilot project was established to use Document Share for discovery in criminal cases. The Court also has a pilot program to electronically move Friend of the Court Referee recommendation orders to Family Division judges. The implementation of the Odyssey Case Management System in the Juvenile Division is to occur in October, 2015. The Court is also looking to implement electronic processing of payments for attorneys representing indigent defendants in the Criminal Division.
An Annual Report for the year 2013 was issued by the Court. It was the first Annual Report since the 2008 Annual Report.
To make visitor and juror experiences more comfortable, improvements have also been made to the central jury room in CAYMC, the jury rooms attached to courtrooms in CAYMC and FMHJ, courtrooms in CAYMC, and the administrative offices of the court in CAYMC.
The Third Judicial Circuit Court looks forward to a productive year in 2015 and to improve services for all court users.