Thursday, March 5, 2020

Romulus council OK's court consolidation discussion

Members of the Romulus City Council approved a resolution at their meeting last week to “participate in a discussion of the potential consolidation of the 29th District Court into the 34th District Court.”
Mayor LeRoy Burcroff, who presented the resolution to the council members, made the purpose of the measure clear repeatedly, noting that any action toward consolidation of the court would be under the authority of the state chief court administrator and that this action authorized “discussion only.”
“They reached out and I referred them to the host agreement we already have with the court. There has been no discussion. This is for fact finding,” Burcroff said. “I will bring any proposal back to the council. This is fact finding only.”

Burcroff added that the resolution for discussion of a possible court consolidation had been sent by Wayne to other communities as well as Romulus. He said he believed the effort was prompted by the retirement of Judge Laura Mack from the 29th District Court.
Councilwoman Virginia Williams, who cast the only no vote on the resolution, was opposed to even discussing such a consolidation. Williams said that the 34th District Court now handles four communities and that any consolidation of the Wayne court “would be better suited with Westland” as only Westland cases are heard there.
Burcroff said that the measure was only “to see if it would be a fit” and that he had heard that there had been some discussion but that he had heard that, “Westland was not interested.”
He added that he had had a preliminary discussion with Chief Judge Brian Oakley at the court who indicated that there might be some capacity there.
He reiterated that the resolution was for “discussion only” and that any action would be by authority of the chief court administrator of the state.
Following the approval of the measure during the Citizens Comments portion of the agenda, Nancy Pride, a Wayne resident, spoke to the council members regarding the issue. She said that the City of Wayne “thinks they will save money, but they won't” with the measure and mentioned several programs overseen by Mack which she said benefit the community.
Pride also said that the costs of additional travel out of Wayne to another court would be expensive for police officers and further limit the number of police officers available to handle calls in Wayne and that the consolidation was an effort by a city official to ensure that no new judge was appointed in Wayne.
“I sure hope you guys consider this carefully,” she told the council.
Burcroff reassured the audience and council members that no action would be taken regarding a consolidation without the approval of the state court administrator and that any new judge at the 29th would be appointed by the governor.
Burcroff urged residents of either community who have any questions regarding the court to call the office of the state court administrator at (313) 972-3300.