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UP legislators work together to reinstate second 25th Circuit Court judge position

The county is currently served by only one circuit court judge, after a second position was eliminated in 2017.
FILE. Marquette County Courthouse.
FILE. Marquette County Courthouse.(WLUC)
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) introduced legislation, House Bill 4656, in Michigan’s House of Representatives on Wednesday to restore a second seat to the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette County. The House passed the bill by a vote of 104-5.

The county is currently served by only one circuit court judge, after a second position was eliminated in 2017.

“It is past time that the busiest court in the Upper Peninsula have more than one judge to oversee the increasing number of legal cases in the county,” said Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township). “There simply is not enough time or resources for one person to manage such an immense workload. Restoring this position will also allow us to work with the Veterans Affairs personnel to create a Veterans and Mental Health Court in Marquette County.”

“Getting a bill passed by this wide of a margin speaks to how well the U.P. delegation of bipartisan legislators works together to get something done,” Cambensy said. “Reinstating this judgeship in Marquette will allow the courts to serve the public in more efficient and focused way where we are prioritizing our veterans.  We will also be able to more adequately handle the doubling of felony drug cases in recent years, making sure our judges have the time they need to work closer with our prosecutors, individualizing sentence and rehabilitation plans, and more quickly move offenders out our jails.  I look forward to working with the Senate on its final passage, and I appreciate Senator McBroom’s leadership and commitment to help get the bill to Governor Whitmer’s desk by July.”

McBroom cited strong local support from the legal community and has received letters from numerous officials backing the legislation, including 25th Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Mazzuchi.

“We appreciate the support of Sen. McBroom and Rep. Cambensy in our effort to restore this position,” Mazzuchi said. “At the time of the 2011 legislation that eliminated the position, the average annual number of felony cases in the county was 224. This number has increased steadily in recent years, and in 2020, we had 471 new felony filings, an increase of more than 100%.”

Mazzuchi continued, “We also continue to handle domestic relations and other civil matters filed in the Circuit Court, and even with the assistance of the other three judges in Marquette County, the caseload is simply too much for one circuit judge. This volume of work can impact the public’s ability to have their cases heard promptly.”

Cambensy and McBroom said other local officials are lending support:

  • 96th District Court Judges Karl Weber and Roger Kangas
  • Marquette County Probate Court Judge Cheryl Hill
  • Marquette County Board of Commissioners
  • Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese
  • Marquette County Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Marquette Public Defender Patrick Crowley

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