General Information About Hearings
The following information is general in nature and is intended to give you guidance about preparing for and attending a hearing. It is very important that you read the Michigan Court Rules related to your type of case in addition to the information on this page to find out the exact requirements for your case. More specific requirements are stated on the pages explaining how to process your particular type of case.
If you are representing yourself at any hearing, you are expected to conduct yourself professionally and to follow the same general rules an attorney would. If you require special accommodations to use the court because of disabilities, please contact the court before the hearing date to make arrangements.
Preparing for a Hearing
Before the day of a hearing, you should prepare yourself. Make a list of the information you think is important for the judge (or hearing officer) to know. The information should relate to the reasons stated in your complaint, motion, petition, or other court paper. Use this list as a reminder to bring up important points.
If you would like to order someone to attend a hearing as a witness, you can use the Subpoena (Order to Appear), form MC 11
, but it must be signed by either an attorney, the clerk of the court, or the judge. Nonrepresented litigants do not have the authority to issue subpoenas on their own signature. You must also follow the procedure in Michigan Court Rule 2.506
or consult with an attorney. Make sure you allow enough time before the hearing to do this.
Attending a Hearing
Go to the judge's courtroom or the hearing officer's hearing room on the scheduled day and time. Dress neatly. Arrive 10 or 15 minutes before your hearing is scheduled. Be prepared to spend most of the morning or afternoon in court. Bring your witnesses with you.
Go into the court room and tell the hearing officer or the clerk sitting near the judge's bench your name, that you are there for a hearing, and that you are representing yourself. Don't interrupt any hearing that is in progress. Take a seat in the back of the court room and wait for your case to be called.
When you are called, go to the podium and clearly state the following:
- your name
- you are representing yourself
- the specific order you are asking the court to issue
- the facts or reasons for your request (bring papers that will support these facts or reasons)
- whether you have witnesses in court who are willing to testify
- any other information that you believe is necessary for the court to hear
Answer the judge's or hearing officer's questions clearly and directly. If the judge or hearing officer wants to hear from other witnesses, ask them to tell the court what they saw or know regarding your situation. Ask questions if you don't understand what is being said.
If the other party is in court, he or she will have a chance to speak also. When the other party talks, take notes. Do not try to interrupt the other party. After the other party speaks, you will have another chance to address the court.
The judge or hearing officer will make a decision after everyone has presented their side of the case. Ask questions of the judge or hearing officer if you don't understand what that decision is (what is being ordered). Normally, the order will be filled out at the hearing if a court form is used.
After a Hearing
Preparing the Order
If the order (or judgment) was not filled out at the hearing, one will need to be prepared. The order should state what the judge or hearing officer ordered in court. Sometimes the judge or hearing officer will prepare the order, but usually the person who asked for the order must prepare the order for the judge's or hearing officer's signature.
If a hearing was held before a hearing officer and you don't agree with the hearing officer's decision, you may have the right to object to or appeal that decision. The way you make an objection or appeal the decision varies depending on the type of case. Specific instructions will be stated on the pages explaining how to process your particular type of case.
Getting the Order Signed by the Judge
After the order is prepared, it has to be signed by the judge. This is done in one of the following ways:
- Filling out the order at the time of the hearing and asking the judge to sign it then.
- Filling out the order after the hearing, getting the other party to sign it, and taking or mailing the order to the judge to sign. If the other party will not sign the order, another hearing may need to be scheduled to get the order signed.
If one of the parties will not sign the order, do one of the following to get the order signed.
- Schedule and attend a hearing to get the order signed.
- Notify the other party in writing that the order will be given to the judge to sign and that the other party has 7 days to file any written objections to the order. If no objections are filed by the other party, the order can be signed.
The general court rule on signing and entry of judgments is MCR 2.602