Judge rescinds Friend of the Court privatization request

DETROIT — Wayne County Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly in September withdrew her request for privatized Friend of the Court functions, according to the court Web site. As chief judge, Kelly has the responsibility of operating the circuit court.

Friend of the Court collects and distributes child support money and works to enforce court orders on child custody. Judge Kelly wanted a 33 percent increase in staffing levels for the service while maintaining an overall budget of $28 million for the service. There are currently 169 employees in the court’s FOC office, according to Gongwer News Service.

The court’s labor unions rallied against the move and in order to negotiate with the bargaining unit, the judge rescinded the request, according to Judge Kelly. In November, Kelly announced she would resign as chief judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court in 2008. Kelly, who served three terms in that position, told the Detroit Free Press that anonymous threats and a rumor campaign contributed to her decision.

References: Gongwer News Service, "Wayne Co. privatization controversy mimics foster care arguments," Sept. 12, 2007; Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan Web site, "Withdrawal of Request for Proposal for Friend of the Court Services," www.3rdcc.org; The Detroit Free Press, "Wayne Co.’s Mary Beth Kelly resigns as chief judge," Nov. 13, 2007