I was saddened by State Court Administrator Schmucker's letter to the people of Delta County stating "Delta County taxpayers should not have to continue to fund a judgeship they do not need." Immediately preceding this blatant lie he claimed opposition to the elimination of a judgeship is not rooted in fact!
Delta County does not pay my salary or contribute to my self-funded retirement plan. The state pays my entire salary and contributes only 4 percent to my retirement plan. Delta County pays very little for the other two judges.
Why is Administrator Schmucker so concerned with the pocketbook of Delta County taxpayers that he would write this letter from Lansing? We know elimination of my position will save nothing for Delta County.
Will elimination of one of the three judges benefit the people by giving them greater access to the courts? Will their case come to trial more quickly and be given sufficient time to bring out all facts before a judge? Will the judge's opinion be better researched and written? The obvious answer to these questions is no.
Administrator Schmucker didn't tell you their plan will eliminate nine judgeships from the U.P. and a great many more from Northern Lower Michigan. Forty-five judgeships will be eliminated. He didn't tell you that their plan calls for shifting 35 of these judgeships to Southern Lower Michigan. Could this be because Administrator Schmucker knows the people of Delta County would not like their judgeship to be sent south?
When I testified in opposition before the House Judiciary Committee I was present when Senator Casperson and Judge Thomas Slagle from Dickinson County testified that Chief Supreme Court Justice Young had threatened the trial judges that if they publicly opposed the elimination of judgeships they risk having the judgeships eliminated at the end of the present term rather than upon retirement from office.
I have received the same message. Yet I stand in opposition for the people that elected me and not for myself.
I have written grants which fund one-half of all the probate court salaries and benefits. I created an intensive probation program for delinquent youth which is funded by grant money to a large extent. This program is saving $1 million per year for Delta County and the state. The savings are verified by an annual state audit of our child care fund.
The taxpayers of Delta County are spending only 14 percent of what the taxpayers of the rest of the U.P. are spending to place youth out of their home.
The cost of placing one delinquent youth in Bay Pines is $384.72 per day. The average stay is one and a half years. The annual cost is $140,422.80. My salary is $139,000. Administrator Schmucker apparently feels I am not worth the cost of one delinquent youth for a year.
If you still think Administrator Schmucker is looking out for Delta County and its taxpayers you need read no further. However, without the third judgeship the above savings cannot and will not continue. The above savings I have written about are not considered in Administrator Schmucker's report.
Senator Casperson and Representative McBroom and the Delta County Board of Commissioners strongly oppose the elimination of our judgeship. I strongly urge you to support them by contacting their office. Tell them you oppose House Bill 5108 as to Delta County.
Robert E. Goebel Jr.
Probate Court Judge
Presiding Judge, Family Division of