Governor to fill vacant judge seat in Ann Arbor's 15th District Court this month
Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to fill a vacant judgeship in Ann Arbor's 15th District Court sometime this month, his office confirmed.
Creal is one of three judges in the 15th District Court. The others are Elizabeth Hines and Christopher Easthope.
The governor's office, through the State Bar of Michigan, began accepting applications for the judgeship on Nov. 15. The posting closed Dec. 9.
"There's a whole review, screening and interview process now under way," Wurfel wrote in an email. "The governor hopes to fill the judgeship sometime in January."
Among those who have confirmed they applied for the position are local attorney Tom Bourque, Assistant County Prosecutor Eric Gutenberg, Chief Assistant County Prosecutor Joe Burke, 15th District Court Magistrate Colleen Currie and Brad Darling, who is a law clerk to a federal magistrate in Detroit.
When asked for the full list of candidates, Wurfel said the governor's office cannot share the names or other details of the applicants because of confidentiality and privacy requirements.
"I can share that the interest was strong," she said.
Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft said he's looking forward to getting the bench back up to full strength and eager to hear from the governor's office who the new judge will be.
"It's just as likely somebody is going to show up at the front door and say, 'Hi, I'm your new judge,'" he said. "This is just one of those things where you sit back and let the governor do what the governor is going to do. We're just waiting for the process to take its course."
Zeisloft said Creal's resignation is technically effective Jan. 12. He also said he's heard there are going to be interviews before the State Bar Association in Lansing on Jan. 10.
According to records on file with the State Court Administrative Office, the 15th District Court saw it's total caseload decrease by 6.8 percent in 2010 from the year before — though both felonies and non-traffic misdemeanors were up considerably.
However, the overall trend for most of the past decade is down.
- In 2003, the total caseload was 50,249, including 639 felonies and 5,987 non-traffic misdemeanors.
- In 2004, the total caseload dropped to 41,067, including 631 felonies and 5,065 non-traffic misdemeanors.
- In 2005, the total caseload dropped again to 40,087, including 652 felonies and 4,502 non-traffic misdemeanors.
- In 2006, the total caseload dropped significantly to 22,696, including 606 felonies and 3,167 non-traffic misdemeanors. Traffic citations were down by about 15,000 that year.
- In 2007, the total caseload was back up to 40,507, including 14 felonies and 3,804 non-traffic misdemeanors.
- In 2008, the total caseload ticked down to 36,361, including 17 felonies and 3,664 non-traffic misdemeanors.
- In 2009, the total caseload was down to 31,313, including 7 felonies and 3,633 non-traffic misdemeanors.
- In 2010, the total caseload dropped to 29,177, but there were 64 felonies and 4,346 non-traffic misdemeanors.
Of the total cases handled in 2009, in addition to the felonies and misdemeanors mentioned above, 4,689 were civil cases, 116 were parking related, 20,846 were misdemeanor and civil traffic cases, 253 were drunken driving related and 1,769 were non-traffic civil infractions.
Of the 29,177 cases in 2010, 4,470 were civil cases, 97 were parking related, 18,346 were misdemeanor and civil traffic cases, 233 were drunk driving related, 1,621 were non-traffic civil infractions.
Creal's docket has been covered in her absence primarily by Hines and Easthope, and to a lesser degree by retired Judge Ann Mattson and by 14B Judicial District Court Judge Charles Pope. Magistrate Colleen Currie also has helped carry some of the load.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.