Michigan Judicial Process

The Supreme Court is the highest court in Michigan. It also establishes rules of legal practice and procedure in the state and manages the administration of all lower courts. Michigan is one of 38 states which elect their Supreme Court justices.

Seven justices serve on the Supreme Court: the Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. Justices are elected to eight-year terms, and a Chief Justice is selected every two years. Though justices are elected on the non-partisan section of the ballot, they are nominated by political parties. Candidates for the Supreme Court must be qualified electors, licensed to practice law in Michigan, and younger than 70 years old. 

The Supreme Court hears cases appealed from the Court of Appeals, which hears cases appealed from the Circuit Court, the Court of Claims, and the Probate Court.

The Circuit Court hears original lawsuits over $25,000, criminal cases, family law matters, and appeals from lower courts. The Court of Claims hears monetary lawsuits against the state.

The District Court hears original lawsuits under $25,000, misdemeanors, traffic citations, landlord-tenant diputes, and small claims. Probate Courts handle wills, trusts, estates, conservatorships, guardianships, and care for the developmentally disabled.