2018-07-05 / Front Page

93rd District Court celebrates 50th anniversary

‘People’s court’ of area created in 1968, handles wide range of cases


From left, 93rd District Court Magistrate David Maddox, 93rd District Court Judge Mark Luoma, and 93rd District Court Magistrate Lynne Maki. Courtesy photo From left, 93rd District Court Magistrate David Maddox, 93rd District Court Judge Mark Luoma, and 93rd District Court Magistrate Lynne Maki. Courtesy photo MANISTIQUE – The 93rd District Court recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The 93rd joins district courts across Michigan that are marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of district courts in Michigan.

As required by the 1963 Constitution, legislation took effect on June 17, 1968, creating district courts and abolishing justices of the peace and circuit court commissioners.

“District court is known as the people’s court because millions of citizens interact with this court each year,” said Judge Mark Luoma. “Our court has been serving Michigan citizens well for the last 50 years by being fair, accessible, and efficient. Our team at the 93rd District Court is very proud of our service to people of Alger and Schoolcraft Counties and we look forward to continuing that commitment in the years ahead.”

The district court has exclusive jurisdiction over all civil claims for damages up to $25,000, including small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, land contract disputes, and civil infractions. The court may also conduct marriages in a civil ceremony. The district court’s small claims division handles cases in which the amount in controversy is $5,500 or less.

The most common civil infractions are minor traffic matters, such as speeding, failure to stop or yield, careless driving, and equipment and parking violations.

District courts handle a wide range of criminal proceedings, including most misdemeanors, offenses for which the maximum possible penalty does not exceed one year in jail. In misdemeanor cases, the district court judge or magistrate make findings of probable cause, arraign the defendant, set and accept bail. The district judge presides over trials. Typical district court misdemeanor offenses include driving under the influence of intoxicants, driving on a suspended license, simple assault, shoplifting, and possession of small amounts of marijuana. The district courts also conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases, after which, if the prosecutor provides sufficient proofs, the felony case is transferred to the circuit court for arraignment and trial.

“The district court is a busy operation, as Magistrates we also serve as the courts administrators,” explained Magistrate David Maddox. “There are many moving parts in addition to just the courts proceedings. Our staffs work very hard and efficiently to provide quality access to the court, this is absolutely a rewarding endeavor.”

District courts also provide a wide range of additional services including “on-call” series available to law enforcement, community service program oversight, general court probation department, and specialty treatment courts.

Currently, the 93rd District Court operates a Sobriety Treatment Court for adult offenders with addictions to alcohol and or controlled substances. Additionally, the Sobriety Treatment Court has a special “track” that is available for veteran defendants. The court is also part of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Mental Health Court which is comprised of Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa Counties.

“Treatment courts are always evolving, we are using evidence based practices to promote better outcomes for people who find themselves in the judicial system because of dependency and addiction,” said Magistrate Lynne Maki. “We are looking at co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse and untreated mental health conditions and their relationship to criminality. If a defendant is committed to making changes, we want to help them change their lifestyle.”

Judge Mark Luoma also serves on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals.

For more information on the district court programs, including specialty courts, contact Magistrate Maddox at 341-3630 or Magistrate Maki at (906) 387-3879.

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