Mid-April move set for court's mental division

The Mental Division of Macomb County Probate Court is moving to the Macomb County Court building in downtown Mount Clemens, effective Friday, April 16.

Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge David Viviano the  Wills & Estates Division also will be moving to the courthouse at 40 N. Main, but not until next year.

“By consolidating both courts back into the same building, we will save money and become more efficient and more effective,” Viviano said in a new release issued Wednesday. “We can no longer justify having separate courts, in separate buildings, with separate staffs, performing many of the same or related functions. In addition, like many of our peers, we believe it is more convenient for the public to come to one location for all of their circuit and probate court business.”

Probate Court Judge Kathryn George will move to the downtown campus with the Mental Division staff and she will hear all Mental Division cases at the new location.
Viviano said George will be cross-assigned as a circuit court judge to handle a partial Family Division docket.

At the same time, Viviano said the division’s administrative structure has been revamped.

John Brennan, current circuit court deputy administrator, has been named interim Mental Division administrator. In addition, the court’s management team is reviewing and updating many of the court’s operations and procedures, according to Viviano.

“Although circuit and probate are two distinct courts, it is much more efficient to combine the administrative functions of them,” Viviano said. “Additionally, by cross-assigning probate and circuit judges, we are making the best use of scarce judicial resources.”

He said  improvements and efficiencies gained by the Mental Division move will include include utilization of existing space in the circuit court building, integration with circuit court administration and closer proximity to other county departments.

Viviano also said the change would allow Mental Division workers to use existing and new technologies including CourtView, document imaging and e-filing solutions.

In addition, he said, state-of-the-art video conferencing will be available to conduct hearings for individuals treated in psychiatric hospitals, which will not only save on transportation costs but also be less disruptive to patients receiving treatment.

George has actively participated in the planning and implementation of the move, according to Viviano, and has kept the focus on the individuals served by the Mental Division.

For example, he said, the court has added three additional handicapped parking spaces that are specifically designated for individuals accessing the Mental Division’s services.

George said her main concern “has been the unique needs of the individuals we serve.”

“We have analyzed every step — from the parking lot to the courtroom — to ensure that all of our citizens have access to their court,” she said.

George’s new courtroom will be on the fourth floor of the downtown court building, but case filings and payments will be processed at a renovated Mental Division processing counter on the first floor of the building, across from the Clerk’s Office.

For now, Viviano said, Judge Pamela Gilbert O’Sullivan and the Wills & Estates Division staff will remain at the current facility located at 21850 Dunham in Mount Clemens.
O’Sullivan will hear all Wills & Estates Division cases at that location.

Earlier this month, O’Sullivan announced she would not seek a fourth term on the bench. Her term ends this year.