By Mike Kruzman /

A request for the reorganization of District Court staff was met except for the reinstatement of a position that was recently eliminated.

Livingston County Court Administrator Roberta Sacharski and District Court Administrator Marisa Lutz met with the Board of Commissioners during their Finance Committee meeting, Wednesday morning. Lutz came to the county courts with 9 years of experience about a year and a half ago. After reviewing and evaluating the staffing, she determined that district court staff are overworked, and it’s not just due to the pandemic. Lutz said with judges on the bench running dockets all day and phones ringing off the hook, they are a high volume piece of the court that runs non-stop.

In an effort to maximize workflow efficiencies, she brought four changes to commissioners. The Lead Criminal Clerk position would be reclassified as a Deputy Criminal Clerk and dropped from grade 4 to grade 3. The two part-time Civil Clerk positions will be combined to one full time position, and the Probation Coordinator’s position is being updated. County Commissioners largely weren’t opposed to those requests, and voted them through.

What they had issue with was the reclassification of the Deputy District Court Clerk-Office Technician position to that of Chief Deputy Clerk. The new position would serve as a support role between Lutz and Division Leaders. Commissioner Carol Sue Reader is a former District Court Judge and said this is a position they eliminated a couple years ago to help pay for the Circuit Court Administrator position that Sacharski currently holds. Reader said, “Now you’re coming back and asking for that position to be reinstated. Nothing has changed in District Court. It has always been a fast moving court and it has always been overworked.”

Sacharski said that things have changed and that it is necessary to constantly be evaluating their procedures to ensure they are providing the best possible service to the community, the judges and staff.

Sacharski said the moves would be budget neutral this year. It was estimated that these moves will cause the court’s budget to raise around $30,000 next year, but Sacharski said that is still within their target allocation.

Chairman Wes Nakagiri pointed to a study he presented to Commissioners a couple years ago. Between 2010 and 2018 he said the District Court’s head count stayed relatively flat, going up by 8, but case count dropped from 46,000 to 29,000. Nakagiri said that at the time of that analysis, Livingston County was spending an average of $297 per case, which is almost twice that of a comparable Macomb County. He suggested they need to look at the overall costs of the court, saying he doesn’t know what the right answer is for staffing, but they are spending more than they should.

The Board unanimously voted against the Chief Deputy Clerk position.