Aiming to make state judiciary 'a national model'

The Michigan Supreme Court has announced that Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. has been selected to a third two-year term as chief justice. 

Young has served on the court since 1999 and was elected and re-elected by voters in 2002 and 2010.

He was first selected chief justice by his colleagues in January of 2011. 

“Four years ago, we launched an ambitious plan to measure court performance and speed the implementation of innovations that increase efficiency and improve service to the public,” Young said. “Being allowed to stay on as chief justice allows us continuity to build on that record of success and move ahead with further reforms to make Michigan’s judiciary a national model.”

“Given our successes,” he added, “I have no intention to slow down or change course. Continuing efforts to adopt best practices, implement technology, and re-engineer our courts are absolutely critical if Michigan is to remain a leader in court innovation and in improving service to the public.”

Measuring and publishing court performance data are central to the Supreme Court’s reform agenda, he said.

Every court in the state has a dashboard with case disposition times, clearance rates and other critical information about the timely administration of justice. 

In addition, the public is surveyed each year on its level of satisfaction with court services. 

The State Court Administrative Office uses this information to help local trial courts improve their operations on issues ranging from docket management to jury management.  

“Court performance and public satisfaction data help local chief judges address problem areas, recognize successful efforts and make further improvements in service,” Young added.  

 Technology also plays an important role in improving court operations. To that end, more than 350 “virtual” courtrooms now allow for certain hearings to be held by videoconferencing. 

Last year, the Michigan Department of Corrections saved more than $2.6 million because the agendy conducted 4058 “video transports” of prisoners instead of physically transporting them to court.

“Innovative technology can help courts work smarter and use resources more efficiently,” Young said. “From statewide e-filing of court documents to online ticket payment programs, the public benefits from increased access and convenience to get business done quickly and easily,” Young concluded.

The court will continue aggressive efforts to restructure and streamline local trial courts to eliminate duplication, share resources and improve efficiency, according to the chief justice.

As part of the effort, he said 40 judicial seats are already being phased out, saving $4.4 million over the past three years and eventually $6.4 million annually when completed.

In his year-end report, Young noted the following additional initiatives:

• Online Ticket Payment and Resolution Options. More than 85 percent of Michigan residents now have access to online ticket payment programs at 118 courts statewide. In addition, an online ticket resolution program was piloted successfully in Washtenaw County in which defendants were able to resolve their cases without having to take time off work to go to court.

• The Online Court Project, funded by the University of Michigan and developed by Court Innovations, Inc., allows citizens who’ve received minor civil infractions or traffic tickets to seek reduced charges or other solutions to their problems online.

• Michigan Online Legal Help.  Since its launch in August, 2012, more than 630,000 visitors have accessed and since October, 2014, there have been more than 14,000 visitors per week.
The site helps Michigan residents address their legal problems without having to use an attorney.