UPDATE: Marquette County judgeship legislation signed by governor

The House passed the bill by a vote of 104-5, and the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 34-1.
FILE. Marquette County Courthouse.
FILE. Marquette County Courthouse.(WLUC)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 3:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:05 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: July 30, 2021: On Thursday, July 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to add an additional judge in Marquette County.

House Bill 4656 will allow the 25th Judicial Circuit, which consists of Marquette County, to have one additional judge beginning January 1, 2023, which will allow for further distribution of judicial caseload assignments for the circuit.

House Bill 4656 was sponsored by Rep. Sarah Cambensy (D-Marquette) and a copy of the bill can be found here.

House Bill 4656, introduced by state Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) to restore a second judge to the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette County, is being sent to Governor Whitmer’s desk to sign.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 104-5, and the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 34-1.The county is currently served by only one circuit court judge after a second position was eliminated in 2017.

“This process is a great example of how U.P. legislators work together to get something done for the people and communities we represent,” Cambensy said. “Senator McBroom and I worked hard to make our case to our colleagues on why the reinstatement of this judgeship was so important. I’m grateful for their overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, and I look forward to the governor signing the bill soon.”

State Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township) 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.

“I am pleased to have this issue nearing completion and would like to thank the locals for all their work getting to this point,” McBroom said. “Having another judge will be helpful for veterans’ issues and other cases to be addressed more expediently.”

Marquette County court cases make up approximately 25% of the annual U.P. court caseload. The average annual number of felony cases alone in the county has more than doubled over the last decade, largely due to an increase in methamphetamine abuse.

Cambensy and McBroom are hopeful another judgeship will allow a greater focus on drug-related cases that will allow the entire court system to use a more holistic approach to deal with substance abuse problems to try to end the revolving door syndrome.

Due to the lapse in time when Marquette County lost a circuit court position with the retirement of Judge Thomas Solka in 2017, the reinstatement is considered a new judgeship and will be subject to the election process rather than be appointed by the governor.

After HB 4656 is signed into law, the Marquette County Board of Commissioners will determine when the election for the new judgeship will be held.

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