51st Circuit Court
51st Circuit Court
Hon. Susan Kasley Sniegowski
304 East Ludington Avenue
Ludington, MI 49431-2121
For filing-related matters, call the
Circuit Court Records Office: 231-845-1445
For scheduling matters, call the
Circuit Court Administration Office: 231-845-0516
The Constitution of 1908 provided for judicial circuits, and the number and location of them have evolved over time as population and judicial activity warranted. There are 83 counties in Michigan and only 57 judicial circuits, which are divided along county lines, so there are several multicounty circuits, and Mason County is a part of one of them. The 51st Circuit Court was created in 1978 by Public Act 164 when it joined Mason and Lake Counties together in one circuit, separating them from the 19th Circuit, which since 1897 had encompassed them along with Manistee and Osceola Counties. The Mason County circuit judge travels to hold court sessions as needed in the Village of Baldwin, Lake County's county seat.
The circuit court is considered a trial court of general jurisdiction because of its very broad powers. It has jurisdiction over all actions except those specifically designated by state law to be handled by other courts. In general, circuit court has original jurisdiction in all civil cases involving claims exceeding $25,000; all criminal cases that involve felony and high-court misdemeanor offenses; and all family and domestic-relations actions. Additionally, it has appellate jurisdiction to hear certain cases appealed from the other trial courts or from administrative agencies that heard the cases originally.
The family division of the circuit court was created effective January 1, 1998, by Public Act 388 of 1996, and it gave both circuit and probate judges the authority to preside over matters that come within its jurisdiction. This division has exclusive jurisdiction over all family matters (such as divorce, support, custody and parenting time, paternity, and adoptions); proceedings involving juveniles (such as delinquency, emancipation, parental consent, and child abuse and neglect); and personal-protection actions. It also has ancillary jurisdiction over cases involving protected, mentally ill, or developmentally disabled individuals. The friend of the court (FOC) office is part of the family division of the circuit court and assists the court and the parties in domestic-relations cases involving minor children.
Updated December 3, 2018