City Not Liable For Discontinuance Of Court Officer Position

The City of Madison Heights, Michigan, is located in Oakland County. The City is required by Michigan state law to fund a district court system; however, the district court is a separate legal entity from the City, and is under the ultimate supervision of the judicial branch of government. For many years, the City provided security for prisoners in the courthouse through overtime assignments to its officers.

When the district court entered into a contract with Oakland County to provide part-time Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies for the security jobs, the City discontinued the court officer assignments. The two labor organizations representing the City’s police officers – the Command Officers Association of Michigan and the Police Officers Association of Michigan – filed a grievance contesting the elimination of the jobs.

An arbitrator upheld the City’s position. The key to the Arbitrator’s decision was the governmental structures involved: “The district courts are autonomous from the local legislative units of government, which are required by law to fund their operations and personnel matters.” In the Arbitrator’s judgment, the City’s failure to continue the court officer positions, even though some minor functions of the job were still performed by City officers, did not breach the collective bargaining agreement.

City of Madison Heights, Michigan and Command Officers Association of Michigan, LAIG 6236 (Gravelle, 2004).

This article appears in the June 2005 issue