Judge Dobrich, Sen. Proos promote bill to put youth back on track

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Legislation would expand use of informal hearing in the juvenile justice system

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos and Cass County Probate Judge Susan L. Dobrich told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about the benefits of allowing judges to treat more juvenile cases in informal proceedings.

“This bill idea came from Southwest Michigan judges, who are active in helping at-risk youth become successful members of the community,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “America is a nation of second chances. Allowing increased use of the consent calendar, or informal hearings, in Michigan would allow our state’s at-risk young people to pay their debt to society without the scar of a criminal record that limits their ability to get into college or get a good job.”

The Michigan juvenile justice system allows those under 17 years old to keep an alleged commission of an offense off of a public record by having the judge put a case on the “consent calendar” if the judge determines that protective and supportive action by the court would serve the best interests of the juvenile and the community.

Senate Bill 251 would lay out guidelines for a juvenile consent calendar, an informal probation or treatment plan that is usually reserved for first-time offenders or low-risk offenders.

Under the bill, certain procedures would apply, including:

  • The juvenile; the parent, guardian or legal custodian; and the prosecutor have to agree;
  • The court can transfer a case from the formal calendar any time before disposition;
  • Being fully compliant with the Crime Victim’s Rights Act and victim notification, if applicable;
  • The consent calendar would be nonpublic with access limited to certain people; and
  • Upon completion of the consent calendar plan, the court shall destroy all records of the proceedings and report the completion to the state police, who will keep a nonpublic record of the case.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.