Circuit Court

19th Judicial Circuit Court

The 19th Judicial Circuit is comprised of two counties, Manistee and Benzie.

The Circuit Court is created by the Michigan Constitution as the state trial court of general jurisdiction. It has original jurisdiction over all actions except those given by state law to another court. Such actions include not only lawsuits arising under or presenting issues of state law, but can and do involve issues of federal law as well, except in cases where the Congress has given exclusive jurisdiction to the federal courts.


Generally speaking, the Circuit Court has original jurisdiction in the following cases:

  • In all civil cases involving more than $25,000
  • In all criminal cases where the offense involves a felony or certain serious misdemeanors called high court misdemeanors
  • In all domestic relations cases, including divorce (with and without children), paternity, Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA), and support actions

Additionally, the Circuit Court has jurisdiction over the family division matters which include, but are not limited to:

  • All cases where is personal protection order is sought or a violation of a personal protection order is alleged
  • Emancipation of minors
  • Juvenile delinquency matters and adoptions
  • Name changes
  • Neglect/abuse matters

The Circuit Court also has exclusive jurisdiction in equity cases, where injunctions or other equitable remedies are sought such as specific performance of contracts or judgments quieting title and establishing real estate boundaries. The Circuit Court further hears cases for extraordinary writs such as habeas corpus, mandamus and quo warranto.

Cases Heard

The Circuit Court hears all felonies alleged to have been committed in the Oaks Correctional Facility and civil cases against the Department of Corrections and staff filed by prisoners at the Oaks.

The Circuit Court also hears cases appealed from lower courts (District and Probate) and from administrative agencies of state government, except in those instances where the legislature has directed that the appeal go directly to the Court of Appeals.

Superintending Power

The Circuit Court has superintending control over the other courts within the circuit, subject to final superintending powers of the Supreme Court.