Last updated: September 27, 2013
It seems everything involved with the Metro Detroit area is complex. Shifting populations have changed the boundaries of the region known as the Detroit Tri-County Area. The court systems, which operate according to county lines can sometimes add to the confusion, but this guide will keep things smoother than a Motown classic.
The Detroit Metro Area is located in Southeast Michigan and includes three counties:  Wayne County (City of Detroit),  Macomb County, and  Oakland County. If you have to visit a state court, then your county of residence determines which court will hear your case.
State courts can be state trial courts or state appellate courts. The trial can be Circuit Courts, District Courts, or Probate Courts.
Circuit courts are for civil disputes with more than $25,00 at issue, felony criminal cases, and many types of family law cases. Detroit (Wayne County) is home to the Third Judicial Circuit. Citizens who live in Metro Detroit, but North of 8-Mile must either go to Macomb County Circuit Court or Oakland County Circuit Court.
District courts are frequently known as “the people’s court.” In Detroit proper, the 36th District Court handles civil lawsuits (under $25,000), criminal misdemeanor cases, preliminary examinations for criminal felony cases, traffic violations, and landlord-tenant disputes. Citizens of Wayne County, but outside of the City of Detroit, may reside in other districts. Wayne County has district courts in nearby Taylor, Dearborn, Southgate, and other locations.
Detroit-area citizens of Macomb County may reside in the 37th Judicial District. The 37th District Court is in Warren, MI. For more information on Macomb County courts and their locations, visit the Macomb County District Court website.
Detroit-area citizens of Oakland County may reside in the 43rd Judicial District. The 43rd District Court has courthouses in nearby Ferndale, Hazel Park, and Madison Heights. For more information on Oakland County courts and their locations, visit the Oakland County Courts website.
This facility handles Civil Division and Family Division-Domestic Relations matters. This is also the site of the Wayne County Probate Court.
This courthouse handles Criminal Division matters.
This courthouse handles Family Division-Juvenile matters.
This courthouse is home to case evaluation proceedings.
This building hosts the Friend of the Court program. The F.O.C. features referees to assist the court and citizens in domestic relations matters.
All Third Judicial Circuit courthouses appear on a map on the courthouse’s website. Click on the court name to the left, and the page will show the court on the city map. You can then enter your starting address to receive directions to that courthouse.
Third Circuit Court buildings prohibit visitors from brining many ordinary items into the courthouse. Check the list of prohibited items before going to court because some items on the list may surprise you.
The Third Circuit makes efforts to accommodate individuals with disabilities and make the courts more accessible. Individuals may submit a Request for Accommodations [PDF] either to the ADA Coordinator or to the applicable courthouse administration.
Generally the court is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Check online for a list of holiday closures.
The courthouse prohibits visitors from bringing several items to the courthouse. Not all of them would obviously seem off limits (such as food and cell phones with a camera), but they are, so check the court’s website for a thorough list prohibited items. Be aware, however, that security personnel may confiscate any other item that the court finds to be dangerous.
The courthouse is in the Madison Center Building, next to Ford Field. You may park in one of the many lots within two blocks of the court. If you need cash before exiting the parking lot, there are ATMs on the first floor of the courthouse building.
Visitors may park for free in the structure adjacent to the courthouse.
The District I courtrooms are in the former General Motors Building on the 14th floor, along with the Clerk’s Office. There are several public parking lots and structures in the surrounding blocks.
Visitors must have a valid photo ID to enter the building. Non-attorneys may not bring cell phones and laptops to the courthouse. There are several parking lots and structures nearby. Visitors may also use the metered parking on Fort Street and surrounding blocks.