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Judicial Branch

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Judicial Branch

Michigan’s concept of “One Court of Justice” was introduced in 1963 by Article VI, Section 1 of the Michigan Constitution. Under this principle the judicial system functions as an integrated unit consisting of one supreme court, one court of appeals, one trial court (known as the circuit court), and several trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Each court performs a certain role within the judicial system according to the jurisdiction given to it by the Michigan Constitution or Legislature. 

Michigan's Court System

The court system in Michigan has three levels: Trial Courts, Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.
Photo of Trial Court. Photo from Michigan Supreme Court.

Trial Courts

Trial courts are the types of courts familiar to most people. Trials are held here, and there are juries and witnesses. Almost all cases start in a trial court, and most cases are resolved at this level. Trial courts decide the facts and apply the law. Michigan has three trial courts—circuit, district, and probate.
Learn About Trial Courts
Photo of Court of Appeals. Photo from Michigan Supreme Court.

Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals is the state’s intermediate appellate court, serving between the trial courts and the Michigan Supreme Court. It reviews cases from the trial courts and is considered an error-correcting court.
Learn About the Court of Appeals
Court bench in the Michigan Hall of Justice.

Michigan Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is Michigan's court of last resort. Each year, the Supreme Court receives over 2,000 applications for leave to appeal from litigants primarily seeking review of decisions by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court's authority to hear cases is discretionary. The Court grants leave to those cases of greatest complexity and public import, where additional briefing and oral argument are essential to reaching a just outcome.
Learn About Michigan's Highest Court

Other Courts in Michigan

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Court of Claims

The Court of Claims is a statewide, limited jurisdiction court (PA 164 of 2013) to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the state of Michigan and its agencies. These cases include highway defect, medical malpractice, contracts, constitutional claims, prisoner litigation, tax-related suits, and other claims for money damages.
Learn About Court of Claims
Photo of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Federal Courts

The U.S. Constitution creates a federal system of government, which means both the federal government and each of the state governments have their own court systems. Michigan Supreme Court cases can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court only if there is a federal issue, usually involving the U.S. Constitution.
Learn About Federal Courts
Photo of Tribal Court Building in Michigan.

Tribal Courts

There are twelve federally recognized Native American tribes in Michigan. While culturally related, Michigan’s tribes are entirely separate and each has sovereignty – the authority to self-govern. Tribal courts resolve civil, criminal, and other legal matters within their jurisdiction. 

Learn About Tribal Courts