LANSING, Mich. — Legislation introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday would restore a second seat to the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette County.
The county is currently served by only one circuit court judge, after a second position was eliminated in 2017.
“It is past time that the busiest court in the Upper Peninsula have more than one judge to oversee the increasing number of legal cases in the county,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “There simply is not enough time or resources for one person to manage such an immense workload. Restoring this position will also allow us to work with the Veterans Affairs personnel to create a Veterans and Mental Health Court in Marquette County.”
McBroom cited strong local support from the legal community and has received letters from numerous officials backing the legislation, including 25th Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Mazzuchi.
“We appreciate the support of Sen. McBroom and Rep. Cambensy in our effort to restore this position,” Mazzuchi said. “At the time of the 2011 legislation that eliminated the position, the average annual number of felony cases in the county was 224. This number has increased steadily in recent years, and in 2020, we had 471 new felony filings, an increase of more than 100%.
“We also continue to handle domestic relations and other civil matters filed in the Circuit Court, and even with the assistance of the other three judges in Marquette County, the caseload is simply too much for one circuit judge. This volume of work can impact the public’s ability to have their cases heard promptly.”
Other local officials lending support include:
- 96th District Court Judges Karl Weber and Roger Kangas;
- Marquette County Probate Court Judge Cheryl Hill;
- Marquette County Board of Commissioners;
- Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese;
- Marquette County Department of Veterans Affairs; and
- Marquette Public Defender Patrick Crowley.
“By creating a new judgeship in Marquette County that can put our veterans first and also serve as a mental health court, we can streamline the enormous workload our largest U.P. county court has faced since losing a judge a few years back,” said Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, who introduced House Bill 4656. “After studying the enormous burden that loss of judgeship has caused with our remaining judges, our prosecutors and elected leaders, I feel we are not only restoring the position with this legislation, but also making the court system more efficient in order to serve the people who need it. I look forward to working with Sen. McBroom to make this a priority and get it done.”
Senate Bill 356 was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for consideration.