Michigan Third District Court of Appeals

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The Michigan Third District Court of Appeals is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


The Third District office handles cases arising from the counties of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ionia, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa, St. Joseph, Van Buren, and Washtenaw.[1]



The Michigan Court of Appeals was created by the Michigan Constitution of 1963, Article VI, Section 1, under which the state of Michigan has "one court of justice." According to the Michigan Court of Appeals website, "[t]he 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." The original nine judges that served on the Court of Appeals when it first began in 1965 were: 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.[3]

'Reform' group proposes removing judges

The Reform Michigan Government Now (RMGN) "insisted its proposal to amend Michigan's Constitution to overhaul the judiciary was intended to be nonpartisan in nature - and effect." However, the PowerPoint presentation uncovered on the UAW Region 1-C website indicates otherwise. The goal was to change the Michigan Court of Appeals from 28 judges to 21, removing six Republican judges and only one Democratic judge. It would remove no judges appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat.

According to Dolan Media, "Michigan Lawyers Weekly asked RMGN spokeswoman Dianne Byrum for the specifics behind RMGN's Court of Appeals proposal. When asked why RMGN chose seven as the number of Court of Appeals judgeships it wanted to eliminate, Byrum didn't answer the question. Instead, she said that 'the net reduction of judges' wasn't intended 'to mirror the reduction in size of the Legislature or Executive branches.' When pressed for clarification, Byrum said the 'RMGN proposal calls for a reorganizing of the courts.' And, later, after again being asked why RMGN chose to reduce the Court of Appeals by seven judges, she said the seven-judge reduction was 'part of a reorganization of the courts.' 'It is more about reorganizing than picking an exact number to reduce at the Court of Appeals,' Byrum said. Lawyers Weekly then asked why RMGN chose 'term expiration' and, in particular, the Jan. 1, 2011, expiration date, as its 'reduction' criteria. Again, Byrum didn't the answer the question. Instead, she said '[t]erm expiration refers to the end of the elected term for the seven judges that are eliminated.' Then, she said, the 'seven judges whose term[s] end in [2011] are the Court of Appeals judges that are reduced in the proposal.'"

The judges on the Michigan Third District Court of Appeals that would have been removed if the RMGN effort had been successful were Joel Hoekstra and David Sawyer.[4]

Notable cases

See also

External links



Third District, candidates competed for 2 open seats
CandidateIncumbencyPrimary VoteElection Vote
BoonstraMark BoonstraApprovedAYes   ApprovedA
MarkeyJane MarkeyApprovedAYes   ApprovedA


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