Legislation would improve the timeliness of service to families, seniors, children, and vulnerable residents
State Rep. Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Township) today testified before the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is the minority vice chair, regarding his plan to add an additional judge to the Macomb County Probate Court. A move that is supported by the Macomb County Probate Court and the Michigan Supreme Court.
Michigan’s State Court Administrator’s most recent Judicial Workload Assessment, completed in 2019, determined that the Macomb Probate Court needed between 3 and 4 probate judges to properly manage its caseload at that time. Earlier this year, Wozniak requested that they run a new analysis, based on current caseloads and resources, and it produced same results.
“As an attorney who spent many years representing the interests the elderly, the vulnerable and the infirm in Macomb County’s Probate Court, I know firsthand how hard the judges and staff of our court work to ensure hearings are held in a timely manner,” Wozniak said during his testimony. “But with only two judges on the bench, it’s not been easy for them to do.”
HB 4823 would add one judicial position on the Macomb County Probate Court bench, allowing for a total of three judges. The number is still less than the workload assessment recommends but it is supported by both the Macomb County Probate Court and the Michigan State Court Administrator’s Office, and it would greatly enhance the court’s ability to serve the people of Macomb County.
Representative Wozniak was joined by Judge Sara Schimke of the Macomb County Probate Court and Deputy General Counsel to the Michigan Supreme Court Trevor VanDyke in speaking in support of the legislation.
“We have managed, with a lot of hard work and help from others, but this is not a sustainable situation, and it is not fair to those that need the services of the Macomb County Probate Court,” Schimke said. “Our court serves the most vulnerable of our population, and they deserve better.”
Wozniak’s proposal remains under consideration by the committee.
“These bills would add $72 million dollars in new fees to the bills of public water customers, each year,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “The state already has too many poorly managed and underperforming programs. Macomb County residents are not clamoring for an expensive new program from which they would receive no benefit.”
“People want assurances government officials are using proceeds from the sale of property seized by the government exactly according to law,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “Corruption or even the appearance of corruption is a stain on our society. Our plan brings greater clarity to the civil asset forfeiture law by refining the process and limitations for its use.”
“Probate Court looks out for people in times of crisis, where time is of the essence,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “These caseloads don’t usually involve people who can wait weeks or sometimes even days for a hearing. We’re talking about orphaned children with nowhere to go, mentally ill and developmentally disabled loved ones, and folks looking for the authority to make medical decisions for incapacitated family members, and myriad of other circumstances where timely, thoughtful decisions need to be made. Macomb County needs this additional judicial position to help ensure our vulnerable family, friends and neighbors are properly served.”
“This is a devastating step in the wrong direction for families struggling to make ends meet,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “There is no question this decision is a direct result of Lansing Democrats and their radical new green energy plan. They made false promises that their new policies, which have been abandoned by many left-leaning states and countries, would improve reliability and affordability. Instead, utility companies are already pushing renewable energy expenses onto the consumer before the extreme policies are even implemented.”