Michigan Court System

In every state, there are two distinct court systems: state courts and federal courts. State courts handle a majority of cases. The following is a brief overview of the State of Michigan’s court system.

Article VI, Section 1 of the Michigan Constitution, introduced the Michigan judicial system’s concept of “One Court of Justice,” in 1963. Under this concept the judicial system operates as an integrated unit consisting of one supreme court, once court of appeals, one trial court (circuit court), and several trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, and hears cases from the Court of Appeals. For a case to be heard an application for “leave to appeal” must be filed with the court. If the Supreme Court grants the application, the case will be heard; if not, the decision made by the lower court remains unchanged.

The Supreme Court consists of seven justices who are elected to serve eight-year terms. Sessions of the Supreme Court are held in Lansing. At these sessions the justices hear oral arguments based on written briefs that have been submitted in advance. After the oral argument has been heard the justices will write a majority opinion for each case, this means that the decision has received the approval from a majority of the justices. If a justice agrees with the outcome of the decision but differs on the reason for the opinion he may write a concurring opinion. If a justice disagrees with the majority decision entirely he may write a dissenting opinion.


The Court of Appeals is an intermediate appellate court between the Supreme Court and the Circuit Court. Judges for the Court of Appeals are elected to six-year terms in non-partisan elections from four districts in the State. The Court of Appeals hears cases in Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Marquette. The decisions of the Court of Appeals are final unless they are reviewed by the Supreme Court.



The Circuit Court has jurisdiction over all actions unless state law provides otherwise. Generally, the Circuit Court has jurisdiction in: all Civil Cases over $25,000; criminal cases that involve a felony or serious misdemeanor; and family law cases such as divorce, parental rights, and adoptions. Michigan is divided into circuits along county lines. In some cases a circuit may encompass more than one county.

Our local circuit courts include:

Kent County – 17th Circuit Court – Grand Rapids – https://www.accesskent.com/Courts/17thcc/

Ottawa County – 20th Circuit Court – Grand Haven https://www.miottawa.org/Courts/20thcircuit/

Ionia County – 8th Circuit Court – Ionia – http://www.ioniacounty.org/circuit-court/

Montcalm County – 8th Circuit Court – Stanton – http://www.montcalm.org/8thcircuit.asp

Newaygo County – 27th Circuit Court – White Cloud – http://www.countyofnewaygo.com/CircuitCourt.aspx

Allegan County – 48th Circuit Court – Allegan – http://www.allegancounty.org/government/cc/


Court of Claims
The Court of Claimshas limited jurisdiction to hear claims against the state of Michigan. Claims (MCL 600.6419) may be filed in any appellate court in the state.  Senate Bill 652 (Public Act 164) codified in MCL 600.101 et seq. See MCL 600.6401 et seq. http://courts.mi.gov/courts/coc/pages/default.aspx

Probate Court
The Probate Court’s primary function is overseeing the probating of wills and the administration of estates and trusts of deceased persons and conservatorships for persons with mental illness or developmental disability. Most counties in the state have their own probate court.

District Court
District Court’s have exclusive jurisdiction of all civil litigation up to $25,000 and also preside over garnishments, eviction proceedings, land contracts, forfeitures and other proceedings. In criminal cases, the district court conducts preliminary examinations in felony cases and handles all misdemeanors where punishment does not exceed one year. District courts also handle civil infractions and small claims court.

Our local district courts include:

Kent County
– 61st District Court – Grand Rapids – http://www.grcourt.org
– 62A District Court – Wyoming – http://www.ci.wyoming.mi.us/DistrictCourt/d-court.asp
– 62B District Court – Kentwood – http://www.ci.kentwood.mi.us/court
– 63rd District Court – Rockford & Grand Rapids https://www.accesskent.com/Courts/63dc/default.htm

Ottawa County – 58th District Court – Hudsonville – http://www.miottawa.org/Courts/58thdistrict/

Ionia County – 64A District Court – Ionia – http://www.ioniacounty.org/district-court/

Montcalm County – 64B District Court – Stanton – http://www.montcalm.org/64bdistrict.asp

Newaygo County – 78th District – White Cloud – http://www.countyofnewaygo.com/DistrictCourt.aspx

Allegan County – 57th District Court – Allegan – http://www.allegancounty.org/government/dc/