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Rep. Kurt Heise on Judicial Reform Proposal

Heise supports reducing judges seats by 45.

Editor's note: This statement was emailed from State Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, following testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the proposal he supports to cut 45 trial judge seats:

The House Judiciary Committee [Thursday] began the process of making necessary reforms to our state's judicial system. These changes will allow our court system to continue to provide high levels of service, while being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.

We will be able to reduce the number of trial court judgeships and Court of Appeals judgeships by attrition. As a judge leaves office or passes away, the seats will not be filled. This will enable us to fulfill the recommendations set forth by the State Court Administrative Office to eliminate 45 trial court and 28 Court of Appeals judgeships.

This is the first committee meeting of several where we will hear testimony and have important discussion about the best way to balance our judicial system, before making recommendations to the full House of Representatives.

Denise Nash October 22, 2011 at 11:57 PM
I am unclear on this - does anyone know more about it? I always hear how busy our courts are - are the number of cases heard by these judges so low that we can eliminate positions? Are we decriminalizing anything that would allow for the elimination of judges? I am all for saving money, but not at the expense of keeping people held in jail from having a speedy trial, which I believe is a constitutional right.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) October 24, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Denise, I have linked an article that may shed light on why there is pressure to shrink the amount of judges in the state. Most judges do not work what any sane person would consider a fair 40 hour week for their six figure salaries, and when some of their work habits get exposed for all to see, pressure mounts for reforms, and rightfully so. http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/oakland-county-circuit-court-judge-puts-in-little-time-on-the-bench%2C-investigation-finds
Denise Nash October 24, 2011 at 05:23 PM
With all due respect, Bryan Bentley, this does not answer my question at all. It looks as if there is a slacker judge in Oakland County - are you inferring based on this one case that all judges are slackers? I can imagine that most judges don't spend a full 8 hours a day in their offices. I know many people that do work at home, many even full time, or is this a concept that isn't ready to hit judgeship? While I agree that Oakland County requesting 3 more judges is ridiculous when they have one that obviously is not doing her job, I think the better action at this point is to discipline both the judge and her boss rather than eliminating a ton of judges from the courts in Michigan. Sorry, but I still don't understand.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) October 24, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Denise, I did not mean to infer that all judges are slackers based on this one case. If you took it that way, then I clearly did a poor job of making my point. This case was just one that immediately came to my mind. If challenged though, I am sure with a little digging, I could come up with others. As far as my comment though, I was just pointing out a possible reason for the action being taken. I will however say that I know of a few district court judges, both repubs and dems, who I can say with confidence, do not even approach what I would call an acceptable level of work for the money the taxpayers pay for their services. As far as losing judges through attrition goes, I do not think that citizens will lose their constitutional right to fair and speedy trials, as the ACLU does a pretty good job making sure that those who stand accused, receive all of the rights afforded them under the constitution. So I have two questions. 1. Who is in charge of meting out discipline to a slacker judge? 2. Would you question this issue if it was brought up by a Dem? Question #2 was rhetorical... ;)
Denise Nash October 24, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Bryan - answer to 1. Gee, they said that the judge had a boss, and usually bosses are the people in charge of disciplinary action. If you don't think that one judge would discipline another, then we have a bigger problem on our hands than it seems on the surface. 2. Truthfully, I am paying a LOT of attention right now, as you know me from comments on other Patch articles. I don't like the current state of Michigan politics at all, so I'm watching closely. I might not have ever READ this article in the past!
Bryan Bentley (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Wouldn't it be more accurate if you said you were watching all Republicans closely? I haven't seen any critical comments from you about Dems, which leads me to believe that you angst concerning Michigan politics stems from the 2010 voter rebuke of Democratic candidates in general, and Democratic policies in particular. By saying you might not have read this article in the past, are you saying that you wouldn't have read it during the Jenny Granholm administration? That is kind of a telling statement...
Jerry Grady October 25, 2011 at 02:56 PM
As any good leader knows, you look at the overall organizaitonal structure to determine if value is being presented or are we wasting our tax dollars. This is not a political issue, but becomes one, when people do not look at facts. The Detroit newspapers did an excellant article of the reasoning behind this and at the end of the day it was determined, by both parties i might ad, there was too many judges overall and it needed to be streamlined. Plain and simple. This was not a targeted agenda as many would like to believe, but a leader(s) doing their job in the state.
Denise Nash October 25, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Thanks, Jerry - I didn't read the articles in question, and that's what I was originally asking for - the facts. Bryan - I'm a liberal. When the cuts being made are particularly effecting the people on the lower end of the spectrum then I start paying more attention. I have been paying a LOT of attention since January 2011.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Denise- Americans have been paying a LOT of attention since 2008, and that spells doom for the progressive liberal at 1600 Penn...
Denise Nash October 25, 2011 at 06:09 PM
His problem is that he hasn't fought hard enough against the tea party, and he is FAR from liberal, he is so far right, he's farther right than Ronald Reagan. But there is no discussion with someone that feels as you do.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 06:19 PM
To a Piven/Cloward disciple Obama may be too far to the right, but I don't consider ObamaCare/ Cap & Trade/ redistribution of wealth, to be right wing types of ideas. LOL But then, there is no discussion with someone like me.... :)
Herb Helzer November 07, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Nice to see your actual tendencies uncloak, Bryan. For a time there, you played the role of impartial observer fairly well. Denise's basic questions are valid, since we are talking about 73 judgeships being eliminated -- 45 trial court and 28 at the Court of Appeals level. What will this drawdown do to the dockets of the remaining judges? Might there be "shortages" in specific courts because elimination by attrition is unpredictable and uneven? Do the potential savings make up for the chance that a future plaintiff, crime victim, or defendant making an appeal, will not get their "day in court?" The fact that she might be a Democrat doesn't invalidate her concerns, which ANY thoughtful Michigander would have. Answering that concern by waving the bloody shirt at specific judges doesn't address anything. Rep. Heise is part of today's dominant faction in Lansing. Much of what has passed in 2011 has been agenda-driven. It is fair to ask if eliminating 73 judgeships (and the clerks and staff that go with them) might be part of that agenda: Attacking "activist judges" and "trial lawyers" by reducing the capability of the entire judicial branch. If a wronged plaintiff can't even get in the courthouse door, then the defendant -- whoever it is, whatever the offense -- wins by default. I can imagine how valuable that might be to the likes of Enbridge (K'zoo oil spill), Dow (ongoing toxic waste and brownfield issues), Pfizer (drug liability) or Walmart (discrimination).
Herb Helzer November 07, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Why on earth are you making a federal case out of what is purely a state issue? Denise flat out said "January 2011" -- When Gov. Snyder and a wave of Tea Party took office and embarked on an aggressive, ambitious agenda of punishing their enemies, rewarding their benefactors, and reigniting the Culture Wars. One clue that they know how controversial they've been is the increasing use of token "appropriations" in bills to explicitly prevent voters from repealing them by referendum in 2012 and beyond. If the Republicans in the House and Senate really believed they had the support of a clear majority of the people for their full agenda, such shenanigans would not be necessary.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) November 07, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Did I neglect to engage my cloaking device Herb? I can assure you that I am never an impartial observer. Anybody who makes comments on message boards has an opinion, including me, and that is a good thing. As for waving bloody shirts, I will wave mine about corrupt judges, and you can wave yours about Walmart, or whoever has your dander up at the moment. You are right about what has passed in 2011 being agenda driven. It is driven by the agenda of those who the people put in power. 2010 voter rebuke of the Dems? It's been that way since America had her first election Herb. That is the way it works. I didn't want ObamaCare, but the people elected Obama, and that was his, and the Left's agenda. This is not rocket science, this is politics, and that's how it works Herb. Look, I will never try to cloak my beliefs. I believe that giving government more power, and more money, in the form of taxes, is like giving whiskey and car keys to a 16 year old. That principle flies in the face of what you, and your friend Denise believe, and you don't like my beliefs. That's ok Herb, you don't have to like my beliefs and principles.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) November 07, 2011 at 06:30 PM
I bring up things on all levels because it happens on all levels. You just do not want to acknowledge that Obama in 2008 embarked on the very same agenda as you attack Gov. Snyder for, and Obama has stepped it up a notch. Are you going to tell me that Obama hasn't rewarded his benefactors? Solyndra? Unions? Heck, he has been quoted in campaign speeches talking about punishing the enemies, and he is a master at cultivating Culture/Wars. So you can say whatever you want about this being a state issue, but the same went on during Jenny's failed administration...
Herb Helzer November 11, 2011 at 10:14 AM
You don't speak for "Americans," Bryan -- just your subgroup of a subgroup, at best. Let me point out one major difference. I say "Rep, Heise" and "Gov. Snyder," even as I criticize POLICIES they espouse and the ACTIONS they've taken. I try not to personalize things. You, on the other hand, do nothing but personalize. You refer to our President as "Obama" and our former Governor as "Jenny" with a smug, contemptuous self-righteousness I've come to expect of Tea Party wannabes. I'd ask that you show some respect, but you said it yourself: "[T]here is no discussion with someone like [you]."
Bryan Bentley (Editor) November 11, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Herb, I speak for myself, not all Americans, and it's just silly if someone were to think differently. I guess I am left wondering why you didn't use your space addressing the issues I raised, like President Barack Hussein Obama II, and his rewarding his benefactors such as Solyndra, Unions, and Lightsource. You instead, personalize your attack on me, calling me a subgroup of a subgroup. Were you calling me that or the Taxed Enough Already group? By the way, you call TEA Party people smug, and contemptuous. Would you say the same of the OccupyWhateverCity protesters? Are they a subgroup of a subgroup? Is Occupy Detroit a subgroup of a subgroup? Who is the more peaceful group of protesters? OWS or TEA Party? Oh, and while we are on the subject of subgroups of subgroups, I must ask, is The Coffee Party a subgroup of a subgroup? How's that one going for ya Herb? The Coffee Party? Really original name. I almost choked on my Folgers over that one. LOL
Herb Helzer November 11, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Bryan Bentley, 11 November: "I speak for myself, not all Americans, and it's just silly if someone were to think differently." B.B., 25 October: "Americans have been paying a LOT of attention since 2008." It's probably unsporting of me to use your ACTUAL WORDS like that. But let's continue. B.B.: "I am left wondering why you didn't use your space addressing the issues I raised...." H.H.: Because this "space" is under an article titled "Rep. Kurt Heise on Judicial Reform Proposal." You want to wax poetic about the President, find a different article. But HERE, feel free to discuss what this proposal might do to due process and OUR Constitutional rights to a fair and speedy trial in Michigan. This isn't about firing "corrupt judges" -- they plan to cut 73 JUDGESHIPS by attrition, along with clerks, staff, possibly court reporters and bailiffs. Concerns were raised that you seem incapable of answering. Fine; man up and admit it. Quick FYIs: Coffee Party USA is a national organization dedicated to restoring Civility to politics. I like them, but am not currently active. I've found Occupy Detroit to be peaceful, engaged and very civic-minded. Now, since you took the time to research me, thought I'd return the favor. Assuming you're neither the ex-LAPD cop-turned-author, nor the Miami-area realtor, that leaves the 49-year-old unemplo-er, "Self-Employed" NASCAR fan who has to click "Like" on his own Facebook posts. Which tells me you are, in fact, a "Tea Party wannabe."
Bryan Bentley (Editor) November 11, 2011 at 11:56 PM
HH- Quick FYIs: Coffee Party USA is a national organization dedicated to restoring Civility to politics. I like them, but am not currently active. I've found Occupy Detroit to be peaceful, engaged and very civic-minded. Your posts just ooze civility Herb. LOL

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