CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE MATT STEWART shared recent court information to the Owosso City Council last Monday. “I think all local legislators should be familiar with the programming and events that are ongoing within your circuit court,” Stewart said.
Stewart continued by elaborating on Friend of the Court programs. “What a lot of people don’t necessarily understand is that Friend of the Court is almost 100 percent fully funded by federal dollars. It’s called Title IV-D Grant. That’s how they’re funded. And the more child support we collect, the more funding it gets, and the more services we can provide.” Stewart discussed how they now have a total of three child support enforcement officers to help the process, and also a full-time sheriff’s deputy (Jason Duffield), due to a partnership established with Sheriff Brian BeGole. The Title IV-D Grant also covers 75 percent of the deputy’s salary, his automobile, uniform, and more. “We are going to reach maximum incentives this year,” Stewart shared positively.
Regarding circuit court, Stewart explained that there are currently about 1,500 open cases. He went on to discuss the Specialty Courts, which are grant-funded programs (both state and federal). Stewart established Drug Court over a year ago, aiming at converting court-defenders to patients-in-rehabilitation. “It’s a culture of recovery, just like it was a culture of addiction.”
A new Specialty Court, now called Swift and Sure Court, is also under Stewart’s direction, and aims at delivering immediate punishment to probationers to reduce recidivism.
Judge Stewart also wanted to share that the public is welcome to watch court. “If court is in session, take off your hat, spit out your gum, turn off your phone, come on in and have a seat and watch.”
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)