Wayne Co. weighs moving juvenile court to New Center

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County is considering moving its juvenile court to the city’s New Center area, officials said Thursday.

Deputy Wayne County Executive Richard Kaufman said the county is close to completing a deal with the state of Michigan to move the juvenile court to its Cadillac Place building on West Grand.

He told the county commission about plans to move the Lincoln Hall of Justice from East Forrest at northbound Interstate 75 during a committee of the whole meeting Thursday.

“At the end of the day, it will be a better facility, provide better security, parking and at less cost,” he said.

Kaufman made the remarks during discussion of a proposal to revamp a settlement agreement between the county and the Third Circuit Court in a 2008 lawsuit the court filed against the county over funding of its operations in fiscal years 2008-09 and 2009-10. Juvenile court is part of Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan.

Under the proposal, a new settlement agreement would be put in place.

It calls for the county to consolidate the court’s four locations — the Civil Division in the Coleman A Young Municipal Center, the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Greektown, Friend of the Court in the Penobscot Building and the Lincoln Hall of Justice — into either a single location or two campuses.

The single location option calls for the county to move all four of the court’s divisions into a single, undetermined location.

In the two-campus option, which county officials appear to be leaning toward, officials plan to keep the court’s criminal division at Frank Murphy and put the three remaining divisions into one location. The civil division will house the Family Divisions — domestic and juvenile, as well as the Friend of the Court — in the single location, which after Thursday’s discussion appears likely to be Cadillac Place.

Officials didn’t discuss specifics on how much the move would cost or save the county, but Kaufman said the cost would likely be folded into the rent the county would pay the state for space at Cadillac Place.

Court officials have signed off on the new settlement agreement at Cadillac Place, but it requires commission approval.

During the meeting, commissioners raised questions about why the administration hadn’t informed them the county was negotiating with the state about moving the juvenile court or that it was negotiating with the circuit court on a new settlement agreement.

“When was the commission brought in on this? When did we first know about that this agreement was afoot?” asked Commissioner Tim Killeen, D-Detroit. “It seems to me with this kind of a thing ... there should have been some discussion ahead of here’s a signed-sealed-delivered document and we have to vote either up or down on it.”

Kaufman said the administration sent the proposal to the commission as soon as it and the court came to an agreement.

Commissioners voted unanimously to send the proposal to the full board for its approval. Commissioner Diane Webb, D-Livonia, was excused.

Kaufman said the Lincoln Hall of Justice building is in poor condition and has problems with its heating and cooling system and its elevators.

“It’s a very needy, decrepit building,” he said. “We need to find the Lincoln Hall of Justice a new home.”

He said the county aims to wrap up negotiations with the state and have the court moved within a month or two. Once moved, the county would sell the building; hopefully, he said, within a year.


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