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Courtroom consolidation debate heats up

Posted: 6:06 AM, May 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-14 15:09:27Z
Courtroom consolidation debate heats up

LANSING, Mich. — Plans to consolidate Ingham County courts is getting both support and criticism.

Some say it will save a lot money.

Others are concerned the county-controlled operation will skew jury pools.

The Lansing NAACP is getting the attention of local judges, city officials and law makers to reconsider legislation allowing Lansing, East Lansing and Ingham County to operate under a single system.

“They would be run by the county so there would be some savings not a ton but some savings for the city of Lansing immediately and then as time went on you'd see more savings due to efficiencies,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

The initial plan promised to save local municipalities over one-million-dollars.

Judge Hugh Clarke of the 54th-A District Court is telling Fox 47 the current cut is a fraction of that.

“At best it's $300,000 at best amongst the entire county,” said Judge Clarke.

“For what? You still have to operate three locations. That's going to cost you money.”

The legislation requires for judges to be elected county-wide in eight years, raising concerns about diversity on the bench and in the jury.

“We're looking at doing the same thing with judgeships right now to make sure that people are both judged and juried by their peers within their communities,” Schor said.

“In the city of Flint pre-consolidation, juries reflected that community,” Judge Clarke told Cryss Walker.

“You had a majority of people of color coming out for jury duty. Post-consolidation those panels were basically very few if any people of color.”

Mayor Schor told Fox 47 he reviewed the NAACP's address and will work to create a fair judicial structure with East Lansing and Ingham County.

In addition to Ingham County Commissioners, both Lansing and East Lansing Council Members must vote on the consolidation before a decision is made.

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