Township moves into new court

Staff, attorneys happy with modern facility

Edward L. Cardenas / The Detroit News
CLINTON TWP. — The days of court in a closet are over for the two branches of the 41-B District Court. The branches on Monday consolidated into a new state-of-the-art, 47,000-square-foot facility near Groesbeck and Elizabeth in Clinton Township.

Pressed for space, one branch used to operate in the Clinton Township municipal building. The other branch, in Mount Clemens City Hall, was so cramped that officials made a jury box out of a former closet.

There also were security concerns at the former locations. In Clinton Township, for example, prisoners used to march down a hallway and pass people in line paying fines.

Now, in the new building, they will be brought in through a dedicated entrance, taken by elevator to a basement lock-up, and then will be brought by secure elevator directly to a holding cell just off the second floor court.

“The public will never mix with the prisoners or our personnel except in the courtroom,” said Chief Judge Linda Davis. Discussing the court’s old facilities, she said, “Every cubbyhole in this building is filled; it is really amazing. We got by at the inconvenience of a lot of people.”

The new $13.5 million building serves Mount Clemens and Clinton and Harrison townships. It opened Monday with a light docket this week.
The construction of the new building, which is a short distance from the Macomb County Jail, means a consolidation of staff from the two branches of the court in Clinton Township and Mount Clemens.
“This building is miles ahead of the old building,” defense attorney Steven Freers said.

He was one of the first attorneys to have a case in the new building. He added that he appreciates having private conference areas to meet with clients and prosecutors.

Other features include a reinstituted in-house probation department; programs such as drug court; updated technology, including video sentencing; and nearly five times more space for the three judges and their staffs.

The mix of brick and glass also is intended to not present such an imposing structure to its visitors. “It is stately, but warm,” Davis said.

You can reach Edward L. Cardenas at (586) 468-0529 or ecardenas@detnews.com.