Michigan's top court looking at hot issue: local court costs

By ED WHITE, Associated Press

DETROIT - The Michigan Supreme Court says it will hear arguments in the months ahead about whether court costs ordered by local judges are an illegal tax.

The case comes at a critical time. A commission created by the Legislature is studying long-term ways to pay for local courts.

Court costs are a key source of revenue for Michigan courts. Anyone convicted of a crime can be ordered to pay for a portion of a court's operating expenses. The Supreme Court is looking at the case of a man who was told to pay $1,600 in Washtenaw County, on top of other fees or fines.

The state appeals court said it's a legal tax. But critics say the amount is determined by local courts, not the Legislature, and is unconstitutional.

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