Senate Votes to Move Court Cases Out of Ingham County - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Senate Votes to Move Court Cases Out of Ingham County

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - Circuit court judges in Ingham County are charged with a unique responsibility that no other judge in the state has. They have handled Court of Claims cases since the 1970s. This includes any lawsuit a person or a business files, involving money damages over $1,000, against the state of Michigan.

"Why are we going to only one county for these cases from across the state," asks State Sen. Rick Jones.

That's a question Sen. Jones, head of the Judiciary Committee, says has no logical answer. He's introduced a bill to take the Court of Claims cases out of Ingham County's hands and put them before the Michigan Court of Appeals, which has four locations statewide.

"What it does do is open up more opportunity for somebody that wants to file this sort of claim because you'll be able to go to four places," said Sen. Jones.@

Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who's tried many Court of Claims cases, says Ingham County Circuit Court should remain the venue. She says it's centrally located and if these cases go straight to appeals court, they miss necessary steps in the legal process.

"It's a disservice to anyone who needs the Court of Claims because it jumps over one of the rungs of review," said Judge Aquilina.

Not only does she say it's going to infringe on peoples appeals rights, she also says it's going to cost a lot more. "Attorneys may charge $300 an hour to come to our court. I can tell you they charge thousands of dollars to go to the court of appeals."

The bill passed the state Senate and is now on its way to the House. Judge Aquilina says when the issue comes up in the state House, she will testify before a committee against it.

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