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Victory supports bill to add Ottawa County judgeship

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Roger Victory on Tuesday supported sending the governor new legislation that would add a circuit court judgeship in Ottawa County starting in 2023.

“An important part of ensuring justice is to ensure we have enough judges available to swiftly and effectively handle cases,” said Victory, R-Hudsonville, who chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. “Ottawa County is a growing community and, as a result, is seeing an increase in court cases. This bill will add an additional circuit court judgeship in Ottawa County to meet this increased caseload and allow our residents greater access to justice.”

Every two years, the State Court Administrative Office releases the Judicial Resource Recommendations report based on its review of the needs of the Michigan judiciary. The review of trial court judgeships begins with a statistical analysis. Case filings are weighted to reflect the amount of judicial time necessary to handle each case type.

The 2019 report recommended that a judge be added to the 20th Judicial Circuit in Ottawa County. Senate Bill 694 is a judicial reorganization bill that would add the additional circuit court judge starting on Jan. 1, 2023. The initial term would be for eight years to stagger the judgeships, so that no more than two of the judges are up for re-election in the same year.

Last year, Gov. Whitmer vetoed House Bill 5259 that would have added the Ottawa County judgeship, saying that it was “unaccompanied by bills that would fill judicial needs in other parts of the state.”

SB 694 is a broader bill that would also add circuit court judge positions in Muskegon and Wayne counties, retain a circuit court judgeship in Saginaw County, reorganize the 89th Judicial District in northern Michigan and allow Kent County to add a fifth probate judge.

The bill now heads to the governor.

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