Mason County district court restored

VanderWall bill restoring court signed Thursday

LANSING, Mich. — A district court in Mason County will no longer be eliminated thanks to a new law sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall.

The 2018 Judicial Resources Recommendations (JRR) report recommended eliminating the 79th District Court. VanderWall authored Senate Bill 754, now Public Act 82 of 2020, to reverse that decision.

“This is a win for the residents of Mason County,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “Eliminating the 79th District Court would have left only two remaining judges in Mason County. This would have been insufficient for the caseload and could have led to some awful results for those seeking justice in the county.”

Mason County Probate Judge Jeff Nellis, one of the two judges that would have remained if the district court had been 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 would have been other ramifications to eliminating the 79th District Court.

“Given the on-the-record time requirements, the reduction to two judges would have made it nearly impossible to create and implement drug and specialty courts,” he said. “And it would have resulted in a loss of subject matter specialization, ended the courts’ ability to assist other jurisdictions and necessitated staffing increases. This law was necessary to prevent these consequences.”

The governor signed SB 754 into law on Thursday.