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Michigan Court of Appeals

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Michigan Court of Appeals
Court information
Judges:   28
Founded:   1963
Salary:   $151,000[1]
Judicial selection
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years

The Michigan Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in Michigan. It is divided into four districts with 28 judges altogether. The court was created by the Michigan Constitution of 1963, Article VI, Section 1, under which the State of Michigan has "one court of justice."


The judicial power of the state is vested exclusively in one court of justice which shall be divided into one supreme court, one court of appeals, one trial court of general jurisdiction known as the circuit court, one probate court, and courts of limited jurisdiction that the legislature may establish by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to and serving in each house.

When it first began operation in 1965, the bench of the Court of Appeals had nine judges: Chief Judge T. John Lesinski, Chief Judge pro tempore John W. Fitzgerald, and Judges Robert B. Burns, John H. Gillis, Donald E. Holbrook, Thomas Giles Kavanagh, Louis D. McGregor, Timothy C. Quinn, and John D. Watts. Ronald L. Dzierbicki was Clerk of the Court. Offices were originally located only in Lansing, Detroit and Grand Rapids. The Southfield office was opened in 1994, and was moved to Troy in 2004.


Judges of the Court of Appeals serve six-year terms.[2]

Current Judges

Note: The party listed for each judge in the table below is determined by significant monetary donations made by the judge to a specific party, party nominations in past partisan elections or communications with judges.

JudgeTermAppointed byParty
Judge Karen Fort Hood2002-2020
Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly2000-2019Republican
Judge Christopher Murray2002-2020Gov. John Engler
Judge; chief judge Michael Talbot1998-2020; 2013-2015Gov. John Engler
Judge Kurtis Wilder1998-2017Gov. John Engler
Judge Mark Cavanagh1988-2020Democratic
Judge Pat Donofrio2002-2017; 2013-2015Republican
Judge Elizabeth Gleicher2007-2019Democratic
Judge Kathleen Jansen1989-2019
Judge Henry Saad1994-2020Gov. John EnglerRepublican
Judge Jane Beckering2007-2019Gov. Jennifer GranholmDemocratic
Judge Joel Hoekstra1994-presentRepublican
Judge Jane Markey1994-2020Republican
Chief judge William B. Murphy1988-2019Gov. James BlanchardDemocratic
Judge David Sawyer (Michigan)1986-2017Republican
Judge Deborah Servitto2006-2019; 2013-2015Gov. Jennifer Granholm
Judge Stephen Borrello2003-2019Gov. Jennifer GranholmDemocratic
Judge Patrick Meter1999-2020Gov. John Engler
Judge Peter O'Connell1994-2019
Judge Donald Owens1999-present
Judge Amy Krause2011-2020; 2013-2015Gov. Jennifer Granholm
Judge Cynthia Stephens2008-2017Democratic
Judge Douglas Shapiro2009-2019Gov. Jennifer Granholm
Judge Michael Riordan2012-2019Gov. Rick Snyder
Judge Mark Boonstra2012-2020Gov. Rick SnyderRepublican
Judge Michael J. Kelly (Michigan)2008-2020
Judge Michael Gadola12/5/2014-2016Gov. Rick Snyder

Court Size Increases

In 1969, the Legislature increased the size of the bench to 12 judges, and further increases occurred in 1974 (18 judges), in 1988 (24 judges), and in 1993 (28 judges). During this same period, annual filings ranged from a low of 1,235 in 1965 to a high of 13,352 in 1992. By the latter half of the 1990s, the Court's filings averaged more than 8,000 cases annually.

Proposed budget cuts

In 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder recommended that the Court of Appeals reduce its number of judges due to budgetary concerns. Two Court of Appeals judgeships were rumored to be cut. Chief Judge William B. Murphy called on the court to be part of the "shared sacrifice," explaining, "The Court wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem."[3]


The Court of Appeals is divided into four districts with the following offices:


Since its inception, the Michigan Court of Appeals has distinguished itself as an innovative institution. Its central staff of research attorneys was the first of its kind in the United States. Its mainframe docket computer system was a national prototype when it was implemented in 1978. That legacy system was retired in July 1999, in favor of a client/server browser system that will allow the Court to take full advantage of electronic filing and other technological advances during the next decade.

Organizationally, the Court has continued to evolve as well. Originally, all filings were processed through the Lansing office of the Court, and new files were only distributed among the outlying district offices of the Clerk after jurisdiction was confirmed in mandatory cases and leave was granted in discretionary matters. In 1998, this process was decentralized, and the district offices of the Clerk are now capable of fully processing all cases. Case management has been substantially streamlined and each case is now moved towards final disposition as quickly as possible under the timelines set by the court rules.

The Court's Internal Operating Procedures were first published during this same period. (See 231 Mich App.) The IOPs have proven to be of great value to the bar and their use by attorneys and individuals appearing before the Court in pro per has also improved the Court's ability to resolve each case smoothly and quickly.

The Court of Appeals' mandate drives its continued evolution as a critical element of the justice system in Michigan: "To secure the just, speedy, and economical determination of every action and to avoid the consequences of error that does not affect the substantial rights of the parties." (Michigan Court Rule 1.105.)[4]

See also

External links



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First District

CandidateIncumbencyPrimary VoteElection Vote
KellyKirsten Frank Kelly   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
RiordanMichael Riordan   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA

Second District

CandidateIncumbencyPrimary VoteElection Vote
ServittoDeborah Servitto   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
GleicherElizabeth Gleicher   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
JansenKathleen Jansen   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA

Third District

CandidateIncumbencyPrimary VoteElection Vote
ShapiroDouglas Shapiro   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
BeckeringJane Beckering   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
BoonstraMark Boonstra   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
MurphyWilliam B. Murphy   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA

Fourth District

CandidateIncumbencyPrimary VoteElection Vote
KrauseAmy Krause   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
O'ConnellPeter O'Connell   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA
BorrelloStephen Borrello   ApprovedAYes100%   ApprovedA