Trial Court Funding Commission Seeks to End Stocking-Like Arrangements

As it works now, when you’re convicted of a crime, or a ticket, you pay an extra charge that goes to fund the court operation that convicted you in the first place. If that sounds like a conflict, it’s because it is.

But the Trial Court Funding Commission is working to change that. One of the recommendations is to make court workers state employees. The change might prevent salary schemes like the one that Carol Stocking cooked up where she changed from being a Grand Traverse employee to being a Leelanau employee so she could have her pension and continue to work and not keep promises about retiring. State funding based on caseloads would also do away with ugly scenes like the one a few years ago where the judges got super angry about the Grand Traverse Commissioners questioning the Carol Stocking scheme and we got the now infamous Civics with Stepka quote: “There are three branches of government. When…are you going to understand that?”

Carol Stocking and Michael Stepka explain to the County Commission that Carol Stocking is going to retire…Oh wait no.

The Trial Court Funding Commission recommendations are a good idea. Judges shouldn’t be generating their own operating costs because it creates a perverse incentive to find people guilty. To make county prosecutors state employees would create its own conflict, because then their funding would depend on how many cases they charge. It would have to be based on county population.

You can read the Commission recommendations here.

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