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Detroit Government

The city government is run by a mayor and nine-member city council and clerk elected on an at-large non-partisan ballot. Since voters approved the city's charter in 1974, Detroit has had a "strong mayoral" system, with the mayor approving departmental appointments. The council approves budgets but the mayor is not obligated to adhere to any earmarking. City ordinances and substantially large contracts must be approved by the council. The city clerk supervises elections and is formally charged with the maintenance of municipal records. Municipal elections for mayor, city council and city clerk are held at four-year intervals, in the year after presidential elections (so that there are Detroit elections scheduled in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, etc).

Detroit's courts are all state-administered and elections are non-partisan. The Circuit and Probate Courts for Wayne County are located in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Circuit and probate judges are elected county-wide, with circuit judges handling all cases where more than $25,000 is in dispute, felonies, divorce/custody actions and matters of general equitable jurisdictions. Probate Court is responsible for estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships and juvenile matters. The divorce/family court docket is run jointly with the Circuit Court.

The 36th District Court, with judges elected city-wide, handles civil disputes where less than $25,000 is in dispute, landlord-tenant matters, misdemeanours and preliminary examinations of criminal defendants charged with felonies prior to being bound over to circuit court. The 36th District Court incorporated the city's common pleas, traffic court and misdemeanour prosecutions. In addition to these trial courts, Detroit hosts the 1st District of the Michigan Court of Appeals and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan located in the Theodore Levin Federal Courthouse building in Downtown Detroit.





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