Public pleased with Michigan trial courts, survey says

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The public is pleased with their experience using the state’s trial courts, according to a survey the Michigan Supreme Court released Monday.

The results of the survey, conducted at the end of 2014, was slightly more favorable than the prior year, officials said. The survey questioned 26,000 people statewide on issues ranging from fairness to timeliness, officials said. The survey was designed to gauge trial court performance and improve service.

“Michigan is a national leader in measuring court performance, and the public is very satisfied,” Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. said in a press release Monday. “The public satisfaction survey and other measures are critically important management tools that help judges statewide make informed decisions and be the best possible stewards of tax dollars.”

Survey results include:

■ 82 percent felt the judge, magistrate or referee handled their case fairly, up 1 percentage point from the previous year.

■ 86 percent felt they were able to get their business done in a reasonable amount of time, up 1 percentage point from the previous year.

■ 93 percent felt court staff treated them with courtesy and respect, down 1 percentage point from the previous year.

About 21,000 people were surveyed at the end of 2013.

The survey, modeled after the National Center for State Courts’ survey template, was conducted over a five-day period and made available to everyone leaving a courthouse. The courts then mailed the surveys to the state court administrative office.

The cost for the survey was minimal, courts spokesman John Nevin said, because the courts used existing staff and volunteers to conduct the surveys.

Young also said Monday the state is shrinking its court budget by eliminating 40 judgeships. This will save taxpayers more than $175 million, he said.

“Consistently high public satisfaction rankings tell us that streamlining and re-engineering of court processes to increase efficiency can be accomplished while maintaining a superior level of customer service,” Young said.

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