Every Judge Costs Michigan Taxpayers $450K

Legislation would reduce to number in the state

“Every judge costs taxpayers $450,000 annually,” says Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is planning to introduce legislation this fall to save money by reducing the number of judges.

“That includes everything,” Jones says of the $450,000 figure, “including the cost of the judge’s office. Obviously money goes to waste when some courts’ workloads are too small.”

Jones' legislation would execute recent recommendations from the State Court Administrative Office to reduce the total number of Michigan judgeships by six. This is on top of the 45 judgeships the administrative office recommended cutting in 2011 and 2013. When all the recommendations are fully implemented, taxpayer savings of $7.4 million annually are projected. The office, which is the administrative agency of the Michigan Supreme Court, estimates that over time the cumulative taxpayer savings will eventually exceed $193 million.

Stay Engaged

Receive our weekly emails!

The judgeships would be eliminated through attrition — by not replacing the judges who retire, are constitutionally prohibited from running for re-election due to age, or who leave for other reasons. The administrative office issues its judicial resources report during odd-numbered years, with recommendations based on evaluations of the state’s overall court system. As in 2011 and 2013, this year it determined that the number of judgeships is not justified by the courts’ workload. Specifically, it recommended eliminating nine particular judgeships and adding three new ones where caseloads are heavier.

The biennial review involves weighting case filings to reflect the amount of judicial time necessary to handle each type of case. The report used as an example medical malpractice cases, which require much more judicial involvement than a civil infraction.

When the administrative office's statistical analysis indicates a significant judicial need or excess, a further analysis is conducted that focuses on local factors not accounted for in the weighted-caseload formula.

Within each judicial circuit, county-funded circuit, probate, and district courts are combined for analysis. District courts funded by cities and townships are analyzed independently from county-funded courts.

According to the administrative office, as a result of its 2011 and 2013 recommendations, 25 judgeships have already been eliminated with 20 more slated for elimination. Five additional judges were authorized by the Michigan Legislature, making for a net reduction of 40 seats. From 2011 through 2014, these reductions have, according to official estimates, saved taxpayers more than $6.1 million.

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:


Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

Related Sites