Human Resources Management
The relationship of the chief judge with other judges on a multi-judge bench and with court staff is based on the provisions of Michigan Court Rule 8.110: Chief Judge Rule. MCR 8.110(C)(3) imparts to the chief judge accountability for the hours of work, attendance, productivity, and vacations of his or her fellow judges. The chief judge is responsible and has the authority to determine the hours of the court and the judges, to coordinate the number of judges required to be present at any one time to perform necessary judicial and administrative work of the court, and to require their presence to perform that work; and to coordinate judicial vacations and absences, subject to the provision of Michigan Court Rule 8.110(D).
A judge may not be absent from the court without the chief judge's prior approval, except for personal illness. In making the decision on a request to approve vacation or other absences, the chief judge may consider, among other factors, the pending caseload of the judge involved, including the judge's latest report pursuant to MCR 8.107, the number of cases ready for trial and awaiting trial, and the length of time the cases have been pending. The chief judge is required to maintain records of absences to be available at the request of the Supreme Court. (MCR 8.110[D])
MCR 8.110(C)(3)(d) provides that it is the responsibility of the chief judge to supervise the performance of all court personnel, with authority to hire, discipline, or discharge such personnel, with the exception of a judge's secretary and law clerk, if any.
For details on determining qualifications of court staff, ethics, absences from the court, staffing problems, and use of contractors from Section 5 of the Michigan Court Administration Reference Guide.
Guidance on Personnel Administration in Trial Courts
Michigan case law has established trial courts as the employer of record as it relates to court employees. Examples of Michigan cases include but are not limited to the following: Judges of the 74th Judicial Dist v Bay Co, 385 Mich 710 (1971); Clare and Gladwin Probate Courts v Clare and Gladwin Co Bds of Comm’rs, 155 Mich App 433 (1986); Ottawa Co Controller v Ottawa Probate Judge, 156 Mich App 595 (1986); and Judicial Attorneys Ass’n v State of Michigan and Co of Wayne, 459 Mich 291 (1998).
Required Local Administrative Orders
Authority for Probate Register to Perform Judicial Acts
Under Michigan statute (MCL 600.834) and court rule (MCR 8.301), a chief probate judge may, through issuance of an order, grant to a probate register the authority to perform certain judicial acts. Model provided.
County Agent (Family Division of Circuit Court)
The county agent is an officer of the court under the general supervision of the judges of the court and shall serve at their pleasure. The county agent shall organize, direct, and develop the juvenile welfare work of the court as authorized by the judge. With the judge's approval, the county agent or his or her assistants shall investigate and report on juveniles or families within the county as requested by the Family Independence Agency, the county juvenile agency, or the superintendent of any state institution regarding the welfare of any juvenile. [MCL 712A.8]
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)]
Delegation of Authority to Court Staff
Although not required by court rule, it is strongly recommended that delegation of authority for the following court staff be documented through local administrative order.
District court Magistrate
This local administrative order is required by Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2009-6, effective January 1, 2010. The district judge may appoint a magistrate to serve at the pleasure of the judge(s) to exercise the jurisdiction and duties only as authorized by the chief judge, presiding judge, or only judge of the district court. [MCL 600.8501, MCL 600.8503] Models provided.
Update attorney/non-attorney magistrate contact information - Fillable PDF
Domestic Relations Referee
This local administrative order is required by Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2009-6, effective January 1, 2010. The chief circuit judge may designate a referee to exercise the duties set forth in MCL 552.507(1) and MCR 3.215(A). Model provided.
Emergency Services Plan
If a court is notified by its funding unit of a reduction of the original appropriation for the court for the current fiscal year, the court shall immediately file a copy of that notice with the State Court Administrative Office in accordance with Mich Sup Ct AO 1994-6. The court, among other things, must provide an emergency services plan which outlines what services are essential. [Mich Sup Ct AO 1994-6]
This local administrative order is required by Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2009-6, effective January 1, 2010. The chief circuit judge may designate an attorney referee or a non-attorney referee to exercise the duties set forth in MCL 712A.10 and MCR 3.913. Models provided.
Update attorney/non-attorney referee contact information - Fillable PDF
Juvenile Register (Family Division of Circuit Court)
The probate judge may appoint the register of probate, a deputy probate register, or clerk of the court as register of the juvenile division of probate court. [MCL 712A.7]
Probation Officer - Probate Court (Family Division of Circuit Court)
The probate judge in each county may appoint one or more suitable persons of good character and qualified training or experience other than the county agent or assistants to act as probation officer, who shall receive such compensation as the board of supervisors may appropriate for the purpose and who, at the discretion of the judge, may be authorized and empowered to perform county agent duties. The probate judge may also appoint other probation officers who shall receive no compensation from the county treasury for the duties performed under such appointment. [MCL 712A.9]