Rep. Greg VanWoerkom this week testified in support of his plan that would add a judge to the Muskegon County Circuit Court.
House Bill 5428 would allow the 14th Circuit Court – which covers Muskegon County – to add a judge effective Jan. 1, 2023. The bill also would allow an additional judge in the 20th Circuit Court, which covers Ottawa County.
“Our community and its needs are growing. Expanding the capacity of the court system is an important part of that growth,” said VanWoerkom, of Norton Shores. “Adding a judge will help families resolve court issues and ensure justice is served in criminal cases more quickly.”
Judge Gregory Pittman, chief judge of the 14th Circuit Court and Muskegon County Probate Court, and Muskegon County Circuit Court Administrator Sandra Vanderhyde also spoke to lawmakers during this week’s Michigan House Judiciary Committee hearing.
The additional judgeship was recommended by the State Court Administrative Office, which reviews the judicial needs of the state every two years. The review looks at population trends, the type and number of cases handled by specific courts, and related data.
Circuit courts handle a wide variety of criminal, civil and family-related cases. In Muskegon County, an additional judge could help handle a rise in probate cases necessitated by a growing population that is also aging. It also would help the county handle specialty court cases and criminal cases.
VanWoerkom’s legislation remains under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.
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