Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

MI Supreme Court will hear challenge to court cost assessments

"My Trusty Gavel" by flickr user steakpinball -

The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases on the question of whether making convicted defendants pay court costs is unconstitutional.

Judges in Michigan have long been allowed to assess court costs on defendants who are found guilty. The money helps fund local courts. These two lawsuits challenge that system. The challenges claim that allowing judges to assess court costs creates an incentive to find defendants guilty. That’s because courts don’t get to assess costs when a defendant is found innocent.

Also, that assessing court costs has a disproportionate effect on lower-income defendants. And that it’s up to the Legislature, not the judiciary, to appropriate money to fund courts. Two separate Michigan Court of Appeals panels rejected the challenges.