95B District Court to celebrate 50th anniversary of district court system

A reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the lobby of the Dickinson County Courthouse will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Michigan’s District Court system.

IRON MOUNTAIN – A celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Michigan’s District Court system will take place Tuesday in the lobby of the Dickinson County Courthouse, 705 S. Stephenson Ave. in Iron Mountain.

The cake and coffee reception will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a program beginning at noon, said Judge Julie A. LaCost of 95B District Court for Dickinson and Iron counties.

Special guests will include retired 41st Circuit Court Judge Francis D. Brouillette, retired 95B District and 41st Circuit Court Judge Richard J. Celello, retired 95B District Court Judge Michael J. Kusz, Dickinson County Probate and Family Court Judge Thomas D. Slagle, Iron County Trial Court Judge C. Joseph Schwedler, 41st Circuit Court Judge Christopher S. Ninomiya, county commissioners Barbara Kramer, Joe Stevens and John Degenaer, Jr. and other elected officials.

As required by the 1963 Michigan Constitution, legislation passed in 1968 to create our district court system. The effective date was June 17, 1968, and most courts began operation on Jan. 1, 1969, including the 95B District Court, which includes Dickinson and Iron counties. with V. Robert Payant as the first district judge from 1969 to 1978.

Six judges have since served in the 95B District Court: Celello, 1978 to 1982; William Brouillette, 1983 to1990; Schwedler, 1990; Michael J. Kusz, 1991-2008; Ninomiya, 2009 to 2017; and LaCost, 2018 to present.

The district court often is referred to as the “The People’s Court,” because the public has more contact with the district court than with any other court in the state and because many people go to district court without an attorney.

The district courts handle a wide range of criminal proceedings, including most misdemeanors, for which the maximum possible penalty does not exceed one year in jail. Typical district court misdemeanor offenses include driving under the influence of intoxicants or controlled substances, driving on a suspended license, simple assault, shoplifting, and other crimes.

The district courts also handles 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 has exclusive jurisdiction over all civil claims up to $25,000, including small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, land contract disputes, and civil infractions. It also conducts marriages in a civil ceremony. The district court’s small claims division handles cases in which the amount in controversy is $6,000 or less.