October 30, 2014

Probate Judgeship still vacant, former judge says leads to lack of availability

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ARENAC COUNTY — Arenac County’s Probate Court, a state-mandated department, is still without a judge, as it has been vacant since May, when Jack Scully retired as judge.

And it doesn’t appear the position, which must be filled by an appointment from the Governor, will be filled any time in the immediate future.

“As the 2010 budget was delayed, revenue to fund these positions was uncertain. Vacant judgeships in several areas across the state were not filled. Stay tuned for action on outstanding vacancies within the next 30 to 45 days,” said an e-mail from Megan Brown, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Deputy Press Secretary, sent on Dec. 9.

Scully said that about 12 years ago, when Governor John Engler appointed him, the county was in a similar situation.

“They waited a long time before I got appointed,” he said. “It went almost a year.”

He said that without a probate court judge, people requesting hearings for matters regarding parental rights and other probate matters don’t have a person there to ensure expediency.

“I was in there with my probate register. We were generally always available,” Scully said. “If they needed a hearing, bang, we could give it to them.

“Any county without a sitting probate judge will ultimately suffer, if they’re not already,” he added.

According to Scully, he was cross-assigned to file Personal Protection Orders, a circuit court function. Since Circuit Court Judges William Myles and Ronald Bergeron also try cases in Iosco, Oscoda and Alcona counties, he said the security that accompanies a PPO that’s filed quickly is often lost.

“The minute those are signed, they are faxed to the sheriff’s department or Michigan State Police,” Scully said. “Now, when the judges are gone, there’s no one to do them.

“The public needs to have a body there,” he added

Four area attorneys have filed for the appointment to the judgeship.

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