Frequently Asked Questions
|How do I contest a traffic ticket?||How do I file a small claims action?|
|If I have a good driving record, will the Court waive the points for my ticket?||How long do I have to pay for my traffic ticket?|
|What happens if I don't comply with the Court's orders?||How do I request a Court appointed lawyer?|
|I have a small claims judgment. How do I collect?|
|For frequently asked questions regarding Jury Duty, you might find the FAQs on the Circuit Court's website to be helpful.|
If you received a civil infraction violation (i.e. speeding, stop sign violation, violation of basic speed law) you may deny responsibility for the violation by contacting the Court by telephone at (906) 225-8235 (Marquette) or (906) 485-5579 (Ishpeming), visiting the Court in person, or sending a written request to deny responsibility to the Court. If you send a written request you must provide the Court with your name legibly printed, current address and telephone number, refer to the violation you are contesting (if you have more than one pending traffic citation), and provide the date of the violation.
Once you have contested your ticket you must request either an informal hearing before the Magistrate or a formal hearing before the District Judge. An informal hearing is just what the name implies, an informal hearing setting before the Magistrate where all parties must appear personally, witnesses may be called, testimony given, and the Magistrate makes a decision based on the testimony given applied to the appropriate statute or ordinance involved.
The Magistrate's decision may be appealed by either party. The appeal is made to the District Court Judge. The appeal must be made within 7 days and if the defendant makes the appeal, an appeal bond equal to the amount of the penalty for the ticket must be posted in cash at the time of the request for appeal.
You may request a formal hearing if you dispute your traffic citation. A formal hearing is heard before the District Judge. The police officer will be represented by the appropriate prosecuting official, you may represent yourself or you may hire an attorney to represent you if you would like. At a formal hearing the Judge considers the testimony and any other evidence presented and makes a determination regarding responsibility for the ticket.
If you have been cited for a misdemeanor traffic offense and you want to contest your ticket, contact the Court by telephone or through the mail and you will be instructed on how to proceed.
|How do I file a small claims action?|
Small Claims forms are available at District Court offices. To file a claim you must complete a form (clear instructions are printed on the back of the form packet), sign the claim before a Deputy Court Clerk or have your signature notarized, and pay the fee to file your claim.
At the time of filing a pre-hearing court date is set. The hearing date will be scheduled approximately 4 to 6 weeks in the future to allow for service on the defendant(s). At this hearing Marquette Alger Resolution Services (MARS) will mediate a discussion between the parties regarding the facts of the case in an attempt to settle the case. A magistrate may also serve as mediator for small claims matters. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will be scheduled for trial with an Attorney Magistrate or District Judge. This trial may be immediately after the pre-hearing or it may be scheduled for a different date depending upon the readiness of the case for trial and the availability of the Judge.
Small claims decisions made by the District Court Judge may not be appealed. If a party to a small claims action wishes to preserve the right to appeal, the party must make a Demand for Removal which moves the claim to the general civil division of the Court. It should be noted, however, that once a case is removed to the general civil division of the District Court, all civil court rules of procedure must be followed. You may wish to seek the advice and assistance of a lawyer.
|If I have a good driving record, will the Court waive the points for my ticket?|
|The Court is required to report all applicable traffic convictions to the Michigan Secretary of State within 14 days of conviction. The Secretary of State applies points to your driving record. The Court cannot waive or suspend the assessment of points.|
|How long do I have to pay for my traffic ticket?|
|Ten days unless you contact the Court and make other payment arrangements.|
|What happens if I don't comply with the Court's orders?|
|If you have a traffic ticket, after proper notices the Court will move to suspend your driving privileges and will order you to appear before the District Judge to be held in contempt. If you fail to appear at this hearing, a bench warrant for your arrest will be issued. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony violation, a bench warrant for your arrest will be issued. If you are on probation, you will be subject to a probation violation and may be cited to appear before the Judge, with the possibility of a jail sentence.|
|How do I request a Court appointed lawyer?|
|The Court may appoint a lawyer to represent you if you are charged with a criminal offense. You must appear personally to make this request. The Judge, Magistrate, or other designated Court official will place you under oath and take testimony from you to determine your eligibility for Court appointed counsel. You must be indigent to qualify. This determination is made by the Judge or Magistrate depending upon your employment situation, your wages, other income, assets, debts, and the number of dependents you support. If it is determined you are indigent, the Court may appoint a lawyer if the crime you are charged with is serious, carries a minimum jail sentence, or if the Judge is contemplating a jail sentence for you. If you are granted Court appointed counsel, you should know that if you are convicted you may be required to reimburse the Court appointed attorney expense to the Court.|
|I have a small claims judgment, how do I collect?|
After the 21 day appeal period has lapsed, you have a few options. Wages, bank accounts, and Michigan income tax refunds may be garnished. You will need to know where the defendant is employed (for wages), where the defendant does his/her banking, or what the defendant's social security number is (for Michigan income tax refund). Garnishment forms are available at Court offices. There is a $15 filing fee to file the garnishment, a $6 disclosure fee for periodic garnishment (wages), and the garnishment must be served on the garnishee by personal service or certified mail.
If you do not have any of the above-mentioned information about the defendant, you may request a discovery subpoena. A discovery subpoena compels the defendant to Court where you may question him/her under oath regarding assets, bank accounts, etc. There is a $15 filing fee for the subpoena, the defendant must be paid a $6 witness fee plus mileage in the amount of $.10 per mile from his/her place of residence, and the subpoena must be served on the defendant.