Ruling Is Bad News For Local Courts
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 23:03:08 EDT

While she was in the process of giving Presque Isle County Commissioners a yearly court report, 89th District Court Judge Maria Barton gave commissioners some bad news, which is bad news for all local courts in the state.

Barton explained that the State Supreme Court recently made a ruling ( People vs. Cunningham) that unless addressed by statute, courts can't impose costs in fines.

Barton saying "Courts across the state have been imposing costs on all criminal cases under a general statute providing for costs. And what the Supreme Court said is that if there's not a specific statute for costs, courts, you can't collect it."

Meaning.... a court can impose those fines or costs set by statute... such as crime victim or state fees... the state collecting 125.00 dollars on every case. But if anything is charged to cover local costs, that is not allowed because there is no law allowing that.

Not being able to levy all costs is an expensive proposition as Barton said from January to December of 2013, Presque Isle County District Court criminal defendants paid 51 thousand dollars. She further noted that does not include Circuit Court costs figured to be about another 22 thousand plus a year and money some did not pay at all.

There are prosecution costs that may be levied, and Barton plans to do that where possible, but there are very few other costs that can be imposed.

However... there is a fix. Barton explained that the legislature will have to develop a law to address the situation. Already, the Michigan Association Of Counties and other organizations are starting to organize to lobby for lawmakers to address the issue.

89th District Court Judge Maria Barton addresses Presque Isle Commissioners at a recent meeting.

On The Web:
Read the Michigan Supreme Court Ruling - Click Here


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