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26th CIRCUIT COURT FACTS AND JURY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

The 26th Circuit Court is the court of original jurisdiction for all civil actions, claims and remedies arising within the County, except for matters to be handled by the courts of limited jurisdiction (District and Probate Courts). The Chief Judge oversees other departments, which serve as extensions of the Court including Friend of the Court, Jury Commission and appointment of attorneys for indigent defendants.

The law does not permit this court to give legal advice or to assist in the preparation of legal papers. (MSA SEC.27.3178(9)

As constitutional clerk of the 26th Judicial Circuit Court, the Clerkıs office performs a variety of functions and responsibilities. The Clerkıs Office files all cases and maintains the official record of all cases that come before the Montmorency County Circuit Court. The office also provides support services for the courts and notifies jurors to appear for jury duty.

As the official record of the court, the judiciary and the public utilize the records.

The clerkıs office also processes felony criminal cases bound over from the 88th District Court.

CIVIL CASES--The Circuit Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases claiming money damages over $25,000.00. Civil cases include all appeals from District Court and removal from District Court, civil damage suits which include personal injury, auto negligence, medical malpractice and other damage suits. Other civil matters include business claims, contract and general civil suits.

APPEALS--The Circuit Court is an Appeals Court for other agencies. Appeals come from administrative agencies such as worker compensation decisions, Secretary of State-driver license restoration cases, MESC and other state agencies. All District Court appeals are taken to Circuit Court as well as some Probate Court Appeals, Gun Board decisions and other Municipalities decisions.

FAMILY DIVISION--In 1998 the Michigan Legislature mandated that all Circuit Courts develop a plan for a Family Division. The law moved the Juvenile Division of the Probate Court to the Family Division of the Circuit Court. The idea was to assure that a family involved in both the Probate and Circuit Court litigation (such as a divorce with minor children and a juvenile delinquency petition) had a single judge handling all matters. Family Division matters include divorces, paternity, nonsupport, child custody and parenting-time disputes, neglect and abuse petitions, adoptions, juvenile delinquencies, name changes, emancipation of minors, personal protection orders and other general family matters.

CRIMINAL FELONIES--Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction of all felonies. Felonies are initiated with a complaint and warrant in the District Court. A defendant may have a preliminary examination to determine if there is probable cause to be tried in Circuit Court, or the exam may be waived. The defendant is then arraigned on felony information in Circuit Court, where the defendant may plead guilty or proceed to trial. Before the sentence of a defendant, the Department of Corrections is required to provide a written pre-sentence report to the court. Additional information on Michigan Courts including other courts of the State, court forms, court rules, and case code types can be seen at the official state website.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING JURY DUTY: Jury service is one of the highest duties of citizenship. It is also a very interesting experience and will give you an opportunity to learn more about our system of justice and how it works. The success of our legal system is measured directly by the dedication, impartiality, sound judgment and integrity of those like you who serve as jurors. While it may interrupt your normal schedule, we hope an inconvenience will be minimal.

What should I do with the Questionnaire and Summons? Fill out both sides, put it in the envelope provided, and mail it back to the Jury Board Office within ten (10) days. Please make any corrections to your address or name on the questionnaire.

If you are seventy (70 ) years of age or older, you can claim exemption on the form. Simply check the box and sign the bottom of the questionnaire.

If you are physically or mentally unable to do jury duty, you should include a doctor's statement.

I received a questionnaire in the mail. When will I be called for jury duty? You can be summoned for jury duty any time between now and one year after receiving your jury questionnaire. If the dates you are summoned are extremely inconvenient, please contact the office as soon as possible to work out a new date.

How was my name chosen? Your name has been randomly drawn from the driverıs license and state ID list of Montmorency County residents. You are a U.S. citizen. You speak and understand the English language. You are a resident of Montmorency County eighteen (18) years of age or older. You have not been convicted of a felony.

How do I get excused from jury duty? In the state of Michigan, no one is automatically exempt from jury duty--everyone who meets the above qualifications is eligible. The clerkıs office is always available to discuss any condition or scheduling problem you may have which would make your attendance impossible. Please contact the office as soon as possible in order to discuss scheduling. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DAY YOU ARE TO REPORT.

What if I forget to appear? You can be found in contempt of court, fined and jailed. Although this usually wouldnıt happen, you should call the Clerkıs Office immediately and explain your absence so that a "show cause notice" will not be mailed to you for your appearance before the Judge to explain.

What if I have an emergency or require a postponement? If there is a grave illness in your family or equally serious problem that would constitute an undue hardship or extreme inconvenience for your to appear on the date specified, you must notify the court as soon as possible by telephoning (989)785-8022. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DAY YOU ARE TO REPORT.

How long do trials last? How long will I be there? The judges try to seat the jury in the morning; therefore, if you are not seated on the case, you are normally (but not always) released in early afternoon if not sooner. If you are a juror on a particular trial, you should plan on being at the courthouse until about 5:00 P.M. The average length of a trial is two (2) to three (3) days, occasionally longer. Your initial letter will indicate the approximate length of days anticipated. The judge will also inform you of the expected length of the case during jury selection.

Does my employer have to pay me while I am on jury duty? No, an employer does not have to pay you, but they must release you from work if you are summoned as a juror.

What should I wear? Please wear clothing that is conservative, clean and comfortable. Shorts, tank tops and bare midriffs are not appropriate.

What should I bring? Books, magazines, or small items to use while you are waiting will help pass the time.

The jury is a critical element in our system of justice. You should be proud of your service as a juror. Your presence is necessary, regardless of whether you are selected to serve on a case. The court and the litigants appreciate your service.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 8:38 AM