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 the Michigan Court Facilities Standards Project Advisory Committee was appointed to assist the State Court Administrative Office in the review and revision of the prior trial court design guidelines. The committee consisted of judges and court administrators at all trial court levels as well as representatives of local government, the county clerk, the county sheriff, the Bar Association, academia, and practicing architects. Their work was assisted by the consultants to the project, Carter Goble Associates, Inc. and Court Works. The resulting court facility standards, published in December of 2000, incorporate advancements in building technologies and also address the impact of the rapid 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 this document is to define a process that assures 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.
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.
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)]
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.