An Overview of the District Court System

In 1969, Michigan law consolidated almost all of the state’s Municipal Courts into a coordinated system of judicial districts, where full-time judges could be elected by the citizens in order to serve their communities’ local legal needs as a court of record. There are currently 98 District Courts in the State of Michigan with 265 District and Municipal Judges serving on the bench.

Judges of the District Court are elected on a non-partisan ballot for a six-year term. Vacancies are filled by the governor for the remainder of the term that the appointment is made for. At the end of this time, the appointed judge is required to stand for election.

District Courts may also employ magistrates, who serve in a quasi-judicial role for the court. The magistrate’s duties are limited by statute and by order of the Chief Judge of the relevant District Court. These may include conducting arraignments, setting bail, adjudicating small claims actions, presiding over informal traffic hearings and performing marriages.

Jurisdiction of the Court

The following are some examples of cases which fall under the jurisdiction of the 25th District Court:

  • General civil litigation, with up to $25,000 in dispute
  • Jury and non-jury trials of criminal misdemeanors (crimes with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine) under state law or local ordinance
  • Conducting preliminary examinations on felony cases (crimes with a maximum penalty of more than a year in jail and/or more than a $1,000 fine)
  • Arraigning and setting bail on criminal violations
  • Adjudicating civil infractions (such as a speeding or parking tickets)
  • Small claims actions (cases with less than $3,000 in dispute, without attorney representation)
  • Landlord and tenant disputes
  • Performing marriages