Interviewer: How informed are your clients about the court systems generally?
Paul Tafelski: It’s interesting because let’s take Oakland county for example. There are several different district courts within the county of Oakland and any of them are a lot different than each other. For example, the 44th district court in Royal Oak has a much different personality and way of handling things than the 52-3 district court in Rochester hills.
Courts Tend to Reflect the Personality of Its Location, Incorporating the Political Views and Finances of the Locale
These courts tend to take on the personalities of their judges oftentimes. They also absorb the location, from a financial standpoint and from an education standpoint as well as the overall political attitude type of the location. You will see differences from one district court to the next.
Incorporating the Different Personalities Tends to Produce Different Outcomes within the Different Courts
The outcome of a drunk-driving case Royal Oak in might be different from the outcome of a drunk-driving case in Rochester hills. Even within some of these district courts you might get one sentence from one judge and a different sentence on the same charge from a different judge within the same building.
Most people don’t realize how important it is to know which court you’re dealing with and which judge you’re dealing with and which prosecutor you’re dealing with and how different the outcome can be depending upon those factors.
Also, some of the judges, for example, have their own pet peeves. For example, some courts don’t look at a driving while license is suspended as being very serious. Even though it’s a criminal misdemeanor, they tend to treat it more like a ticket in their punishment base and most often will impose only a fine.
In other courts, other judges are particularly and personally bothered by the number of people who drive without a license. They will lock people up who have committed that offense on more than one occasion to try to discourage them from continuing to drive without a license. That is another really good example of how things can be much different from one court to the next.