The district courts in Berkley and Royal Oak will merge beginning in 2015 as part of a money-saving plan to reduce the number of judges statewide.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed off on Senate bill 1351 – sponsored by Sens. John Pappageorge, R–Troy, and Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield – on Jan. 8.
The legislation reverses a previous plan approved in February 2012 that consolidated 45A District Court in Berkley and 45B District Court in Oak Park into a single 45th District Court. The combined court continued to operate in two buildings.
The new merger time line is as follows.
- Now until 2015: 45th District Court has reverted to 45A District Court in Berkley serving Berkley and 45B District Court in Oak Park serving Oak Park, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak Township and Pleasant Ridge. Judge Jamie Wittenberg continues to adjudicate Berkley cases at 45A District Court in Berkley.
- 2015-2020: The Royal Oak 44th District, whose new building has space for two judges – positions currently filled by Derek Meinecke and Terrence Brennan – will absorb Berkley. Until Judge Brennan's retirement in 2020, Wittenberg will continue to work in the Berkley courthouse and it will be up to the combined court to decide how cases would be delegated. "I assume it would be the status quo," Wittenberg said.
- 2020: Wittenberg – if re-elected in 2014 – will move to Royal Oak's courthouse, which will become one court serving Berkley and Royal Oak with two judges sharing the caseload.
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