What Happens in District Court?

The District Court in St. Clair County is a high volume docket which requires experience in legal and practical matters. 

The Judge of the District Court deals with a large number of cases and comes into contact with a large number of St. Clair County residents as parties, attorneys, witnesses and court staff. 

According to the Courts page on the State of Michigan website, District Court is described as follows:

“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, all civil cases with claims up to $25,000, landlord-tenant matters, most traffic tickets, and all misdemeanor criminal cases (generally, cases where the accused, if found guilty, cannot be sentenced to more than one year in jail). In addition, small claims cases are heard by a division of the district court. In Michigan, a few municipalities have chosen to retain a municipal court rather than create a district court. The municipal courts have limited powers and are located in Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, and Grosse Point Shores/Grosse Pointe Woods.

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 more 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 determine 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.

There are 105 district courts in Michigan. District court judges are elected for six-year terms.”

Why is VanderHeuvel the Best Candidate
for District Judge?

For the last nine years, Caryn VanderHeuvel has worked in the quasi-judicial position of Attorney Referee with the St. Clair County Friend of Court.  The hearings that she holds involve two of the most important issues for people – their children and their finances.

She deals with a high volume of cases on a daily basis with parents both represented and unrepresented by counsel.  Emotions can run high in these hearings and parties often have difficulty communicating with each other.  VanderHeuvel uses her effective listening skills to get to the heart of the issues that have brought the parties into FOC and she attempts to fashion a solution that is in the best interest of the children, while also following the law and taking into account other issues the family may be facing. 

The clients that she deals with at referee hearings are many of the same community members who are before the 72nd District Court. 

Common issues in her hearings, including substance abuse, domestic violence and housing issues, are the same issues that are addressed in District Court.  

Some of the county’s most vulnerable residents are involved with several different facets of the court system, and they deserve to have a person on the bench who can listen to the facts and apply the law in a straight-forward and compassionate manner, while also taking into consideration the bigger picture for the parties and the community as a whole.

Caryn VanderHeuvel is that person.

During her time as an Attorney Referee and as a Research Attorney and Law Clerk, she has had the opportunity to work with and observe all different types of judges. 

“The ability to resolve cases quickly and cleanly, while also displaying respect and compassion for the parties involved, are the qualities of an effective judge. I will absolutely bring those qualities to the position of District Court Judge.

I respectfully and humbly ask for your vote for District Judge.”

Caryn VanderHeuvel, Candidate, 72nd District Judge
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