Citizens turn to the Michigan court system for solutions. They ask the courts to settle their disputes. They ask for justice when they feel they've been wronged.
The Michigan court system was set up as One Court of Justice. Different branches of the court system are specifically designed to deal with different kinds of problems. Probate Courts handle wills, trusts, and guardianship. District Court attends to minor traffic violations such as speeding and crimes of a less serious nature. Circuit Court hears the most serious category of criminal offenses and also deals with family issues such as divorce, custody, and delinquency.
Most people are familiar with trial courts. Here, lawyers present their cases to judges or juries, witnesses testify, and evidence is examined. Finally, a verdict is reached based on all the facts.
Michigan's trial courts deal with a variety of cases. Most trial court decisions are final. In a small number of cases, the trial court decision is not the end.
If either side is unhappy with the decision of the trial court, the case may be appealed. When this happens, it goes to an appellate court, usually the Michigan Court of Appeals. This does not mean that a new trial takes place. Instead, the Court of Appeals judges review the trial court's decision to see that the law was followed and the trial was fair.
The appellate judges may reverse the trial court decision and send the case back to the trial court for a new trial, or they may affirm or agree with the decision of the trial court.
If a case is not overturned in the Court of Appeals, there is one more way to appeal the decision—the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court's decision is the final word on the law in the State of Michigan.
Michigan's “One Court of Justice” is composed of many courts…all working together…to uphold justice.
Michigan courts handle almost 4 million cases every year. This involves millions of legal documents and requires many dedicated employees to make the court system work.
While you may be familiar with judges and lawyers, there are also many court employees working behind the scenes, including:
- clerks who schedule court proceedings;
- secretaries who type and maintain important court records;
- bailiffs who maintain order in the courtroom;
- court reporters who make a word-for-word record of the court proceedings;
- court administrators who manage court budgets and oversee staff as well as case workers, mediators, computer operators, and psychologists, just to name a few.
The Michigan Court system and its employees are dedicated to serving Michigan citizens.