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​Facilities and Technology Management

 

See Section 7 of the Michigan Court Administration Reference Guide in addition to the information below.

 

Facilities Management 

In Michigan, circuit and probate court facilities are the financial responsibility of county government pursuant to MCL 45.16, MCL 46.7. Depending on the class type, district court facilities are the financial responsibility of either the county or the political subdivision(s) where the court sits pursuant to MCL 600.8261, MCL 600.8262, and MCL 600.8263.

 

The Michigan Supreme Court, through Administrative Order 1983-2, endorsed the use of design guidelines from a 1981 Michigan Courthouse Study for all future construction, remodeling, or renovation of court facilities in the state.  Since the development of the first guidelines, there have been many advances in design and technology, and court facility standards were published in December of 2000 to incorporate advancements in building technologies and address the impact of changes in information technology that affect efficient trial court operations.

 

Because local government is the owner of court facilities, the design process is controlled locally, without state approval of final design documents, budgets, or schedules. The Supreme Court, through the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO), however, has a substantial experience base that can be used to help localities that are planning court facilities to avoid costly mistakes. The purpose of the standards is to define a process that ensures the involvement of appropriate stakeholders in the decision-making process and to illustrate the critical design issues and guidelines, that when carefully applied by professionals, should yield a cost-effective courthouse with a lengthy useful life.

 

Continuing Court Operations After Emergency or Disaster

Guidelines are available to assist courts in developing local plans for continuing trial court operations in the event of an emergency or disaster.  Although a Continuity of Operations Plan is not required, each trial court must establish a kit that will enable it to respond within 12 hours of an emergency/disaster and, if court operations are disrupted, to resume essential operations within 24 hours.  See memo for further details.

 

Court Security and Emergency Management

Court security is one of the Michigan Supreme Court’s highest priorities.  In June 2005, the Supreme Court hired its first trial court security specialist. The position is charged with developing security protocols for Michigan trial courts and advising judges and court staff on matters relating to court security and emergency management. As part of the security-related responsibilities, the position conducts threat and risk assessments, performs research and analysis, and provides training for the judiciary and court staff.

 

Each court should appoint a court security coordinator and an emergency services coordinator.  The name(s) and contact information for court security and emergency services coordinators should be provided to the State Court Administrative Office and appropriate local law enforcement and emergency services personnel.

 

See Section 7-02 of the Michigan Court Administration Reference Guide for further details.

 

Maintaining a County Law Library

The requirement for maintaining a law library stems from an original mandate to require a library in each township or city in the 1908 Michigan Constitution.  The mandate was carried over in the 1963 Michigan Constitution in that support for "public libraries” shall be funded by fines assessed, collected and applied to the support of public libraries and county law libraries.

 

Currently available funding for county law libraries precludes most counties from establishing, operating, and maintaining a physical law library.  However, courts should still make legal resources available.  For information on alternatives to a traditional law library, see Section 7-01 of the Michigan Court Administration Reference Guide.  

 

Use and Management of Technology

Standards and guidelines for use of various technology in the trial courts have been established by the State Court Administrative Office.  Current areas include digital imaging, websites and social media sites, and courtroom technology (digital audio and video recording and videoconferencing). 

 

Portable Electronic Communications Devices in the Court

Chief judges of trial courts may establish a policy regarding the use of cell phones or other portable electronic communication devices within the court pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 8.115. The key provisions of the rule are that no photographs may be taken of any jurors or witnesses, no photographs may be taken inside any courtroom without permission of the court, and the policy regarding the use of cell phones or other portable electronic communications devices must be posted in a conspicuous location outside and inside each courtroom.  Failure to comply with the rule or with the policy established by the chief judge may result in a fine, including confiscation of the device, incarceration, or both, for contempt of court.  A sample policy is available.

 

Required Local Administrative Orders

Court Closure - General

Courts periodically find it necessary to close for brief periods of time for such matters as staff training, conducting pending inventory, and doing records destruction. This model local administrative order can be customized to meet the needs of the court.  Model provided.  A sample notice of closure is available in Rich Text format.

 

Court closure due to weather emergency

All courts must submit a local administrative order governing closure due to emergency weather conditions. In facilities containing multiple courts, the courts must adopt and submit a joint LAO. Courts with the same funding unit should also submit a joint LAO, if possible. The policy must provide that certain procedures will apply in the event of a weather emergency as outlined in the Guideline for Unscheduled Court Closing Due to Weather Emergency.  Model provided.

 

Court Holidays

The court is directed to observe a specific list of holidays, except those courts which have adopted modifying local administrative orders. Furthermore, courts are required to promulgate a modifying administrative order, if appropriate, to accommodate or achieve uniformity with the holiday practices of local governmental units regarding local public employees. A judge may continue a trial in progress, however, or dispose of judicial matters on any of these specifically listed holidays if he or she finds it to be necessary.  MCR 8.110(D)(2).

 

Court Hours

The chief judge shall enter an administrative order establishing the court's hours. MCR 8.110(D)(1).

 

Security policies for court facilities

Supreme Court Administrative Order 2001-1 states that weapons are not permitted in any courtroom, office, or other space used for official court business or by judicial employees unless the chief judge or other person designated by the chief judge has given prior approval consistent with the court's written policy. Each court is required to submit a written policy conforming with this order to the State Court Administrator for approval. Courts are encouraged to collaborate with other entities in shared facilities and, where appropriate, to work with local funding units in developing the policy, which may be a separate plan or part of a general security program. Model provided.