Report: Trial court funding system creates conflict of interest in Michigan courtrooms
A final report released Thursday by the Michigan Trial Court Funding Commission calls Michigan's court funding system "broken."
The report finds criminal defendants are charged more than 418 million dollars in fines and fees each year.
Ingham County District Judge Tom Boyd is with the commission. He says that courts relying on these fines and fees to operate may influence a judge's decision in the courtroom.
“Can the judge not only be fair, but appear to be fair when the decision is related to the amount of money that the court will have to operate?” Boyd said.
Boyd says having the state accept more responsibility for court funding, as well as having the state take over collection of debt to the courts, could be solutions to the problem.
“It would make our courts more fair, it would make our jails less overcrowded. It would be a much wiser way to spend local revenue,” he said.
The report finds that more than 26% of trial court budgets are generated by issuing fines and fees.
Listen to Boyd’s full conversation with Stateside above.