What & Why

What is a District Court?

The Legislature in Lansing established District Courts in Michigan about 28 years ago to help relieve the overcrowded State Circuit Courts. There are about 100 District Courts in the State of Michigan.

The District Court has exclusive jurisdiction in all civil litigation up to $25,000, small claims, garnishment proceedings, evictions, and land contract and mortgage foreclosures.

In the criminal area, District Courts handle all arraignments, most misdemeanor cases, the setting and acceptance of bail, bench and jury trials, sentencings, and preliminary examinations in felony case.

The District Court handles all traffic cases including parking , informal and formal hearings, and trials.

Why The Court is Really For You

Over 200 years ago, the framers of our Constitution (a document written in only 90 days) asked the Courts to implement words laid down by radicals, dreamers and idealists. They contemplated that State Trial Courts would carry the burden of enforcing the rule of law and protection of individual liberties and indeed, District Courts like Royal Oak handle over 90% of all litigation in the State of Michigan in pursuit of these goals.

A little over 25 years ago the Legislature in Lansing passed a law which allowed citizens to bring claims against another party without the need for an attorney. These cases are filed in Small Claims Court and the amount in question cannot exceed $3,000. Over 1,000 people use this branch of the District Court every year. Any citizen may pick up a pamphlet explaining our Small Claims Court at the court clerk window on the 1st floor of the 44th District Court, at 400 E. Eleven Mile in Royal Oak.

Although our Judicial system may not be perfect, it is still the best system in the world. How often we hear the words,  "If our soft-hearted and soft-headed judges would put some of these people in jail, we would be able to stop crime". Well, we have more prisoners per capita in our jails than any other civilized nation in the world, and none of these prisoners went there voluntarily. They were all put there by judges.

First and foremost this District Court System is important because it is the first level of Trial Courts. It is the court where most of our citizens come and as a result, it is the most visible.