House OKs VanderWall bill restoring district court

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall that would restore a district court in Mason County slated for elimination.

Senate Bill 754 would reverse the decision in the 2018 Judicial Resources Recommendations (JRR) report to eliminate the 79th District Court.

“The decision in the JRR report was a bad one that could have dire consequences for the courts and for residents seeking justice,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “Eliminating the 79th District Court would leave only two remaining judges in Mason County, an insufficient number for the caseload.”

Mason County Probate Judge Jeff Nellis, one of the two judges that would remain if the district court were eliminated, stressed the importance of keeping the court.

“We believe that retaining this judgeship will directly benefit our constituents,” Nellis said. “We will be able to maintain the high level of service and timely case processing that we currently provide, while retaining the time and judicial resources required to facilitate truly deliberative decision-making.”

VanderWall said there are other ramifications to the proposed change.

“Given the on-the-record time requirements, the reduction to two judges would make it nearly impossible to create and implement drug and specialty courts,” he said. “And it would result in a loss of subject matter specialization, end the courts’ ability to assist other jurisdictions and necessitate staffing increases.”

SB 754 now heads to the governor to be signed into law.