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State Laws

Detroit Courthouses

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: [1]  Wayne County (City of Detroit), [2]  Macomb County, and [3] Oakland County. If you have to visit a state court, then your county of residence determines which court will hear your case.

State Courts

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