Interviewer: What does jurisdiction mean?
Each Court Has Jurisdiction over Certain Types of Cases in Certain Geographical Areas
Paul Tafelski: Each court will have jurisdiction over certain types of cases in certain geographic areas. Here in Michigan, the district courts usually have responsibilities for certain cities. For example, the district courts in Rochester Hills are responsible for civil matters under $25,000, landlord-tenant matters, traffic tickets and criminal misdemeanors for the cities of Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Rochester, Lake Angelus, Lake Orion, Addison Township, Orion Township, Oakland Township and Oxford.
Certain Courts Hear Civil Cases Where the Value of an Award Does Not Exceed a Certain Dollar Amount
For all those different municipalities, the jurisdiction is with that 52-3 District court in Rochester Hills. Their jurisdiction expands to a number of different areas, whether it will be a civil case or a criminal case and based upon geography, the total amount of money involved in civil cases, all landlord-tenant cases in those areas, quite a few and in different things. All these district courts have different things that they are responsible for.
Circuit Courts Handle Felony Cases
The circuit courts handle the entire county. For example the Oakland County circuit court handles all felonies that are committed in Oakland County and all civil cases that exceed $25,000 in value, as well as all divorce cases or child custody or neglect cases that are filed within the county of Oakland. The same thing goes to Wayne County, Macomb County or Washtenaw County etc.
Where the Crime or Event Occurred Determines Jurisdiction
Interviewer: What are the factors that determine jurisdiction in your area?
Paul Tafelski: Location of the event in question, the amount of money in question and where did the crime occur. That’s where the jurisdiction comes into play. If it is a civil case, it could be how much is the civil case worth.
With a criminal case, it could be whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, and then the third factor that crosses to both the civil and the criminal cases it’s going to be where the location of the underlying event. Did the event transpire within the geographical jurisdiction of that court?
Interviewer: What sort of violations does one have to commit in order for it to be handled with the municipal court?
Paul Tafelski: The municipal courts for all practical purposes, mainly just are the same as a district court only they aren’t under the state charter. They’re municipal in their authority and they are used more like a part time court. They only have a judge or a part time judge and part time staff but otherwise they are very much like district courts.