95B District Court
Department Employees:
District Court Judge: Christopher S. Ninomiya- cn@dickinsoncountymi.gov
Court Recorder: Trish Miller -
Court Administrator: Connie Chicha-
District Court Magistrate: Joan Nelson -
Deputy Magistrate: Janet Guminski -
District Court Clerk: Donna Cousineau -
Chief Probation Officer: Travis Barlock -
Probation Officer: Amber Miller -
Secretary: Wendy Stebbins -

Created by the legislature in 1968, the Court opened Jan. 1, 1969 with V. Robert Payant as the first District Judge.

District Court Judges and their terms are:
Hon. V. Robert Payant 1969-1978
Hon. Richard Celello 1978-1982
Hon. William Brouillette 1983-1990
Hon. C. Joseph Schwedler 1990
Hon. Michael J. Kusz 1991-2008
Hon. Christopher S. Ninomiya 2009+
The district court is often called the people's court. More people have contact with the district court than any other court. The district court handles most traffic violations and hears both criminal and civil cases including small claims and landlord-tenant disputes. Civil disputes seeking money damages cannot exceed $25,000 in district court.
Criminal Cases
All criminal cases for persons 17 years or older, begin in the district court. The district court explains to the defendant the charges, his or her rights, and the possible consequences if convicted of the charge. The court also determines the bail amount and collects bail. If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor that is punishable by not rnore than one year in jail, the district court will conduct a trial and sentence the defendant if found guilty. In felony cases (generally, cases that are punishable by more than one year in prison) the district court will set the bail amount and hold a preliminary examination to detertermine if a crime was committed and if there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed the crime. If so, the case is transferred to the circuit court for trial.

Traffic Court
The majority of all traffic violations are handled in the district court. The magistrate can accept pleas on civil infractions, non-traffic misdemeanors, some traffic misdemeanors, some DNR violations, and parking tickets. Hearings are held by the magistrate or judge for any disputed tickets. All traffic violations can be paid in the District Court Office.

Please contact: County Magistrate, Joan Nelson - (906) 774-0506.

Small Claims Court
When you are suing someone for $3,000 or less, your case can be heard in the small claims division of the district court. Your case may be heard by a judge or by an attomey magistrate.

In small claims cases, the parties represent themselves. You cannot have an attorney present your case. ln addition, the Judge's decision is final and cannot be appealed. If either party objects to these conditions, the case will be transferred to the district court for a hearing. However, if the case is heard by an attorney magistrate, the decsion may be appealed to the district judge for a new hearing.

The defendant can request that a small claims case be removed to the regular civil division. If that occurs, all parties may have attomeys. Processing of the case then follows the pattern of a regular civil case and the decision may be appealed to the circuit court.

The circuit court will handle the case if the amount of the claim is more than $25,000. The case can be filed in the circuit court where the incident occurred or in the circuit court in the county where the defendant lives.

Landlord/Tenant Disputes
A tenant can be evicted from a property for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons are failure to pay rent, destruction of property and refusal to follow rules and regulations.

Before a landlord can file a lawsuit to evict a tenant, the tenant must be served with a "Notice to Quit." After the specified time on the "Notice to Quit" has passed, a complaint may be filed in the district court and a hearing scheduled. At the hearing, the court will decide whether the landlord should be given possession of the property and awarded a money judgment. If the tenant fails to appear at the court hearing and answer the complaint, a default judgment for possession of the property and money judgement may be entered. Ten days after a judgment for possession has been entered, a landlord may obtain a document called an "Order of Eviction". This authorizes the landord to evict the tenant and remove the tenant's belongings from the rental property.
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