Chief Judge Gives Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger Directive To Clear Backlog

MACOMB COUNTY (WWJ) – Macomb County Clerk Karen Sparnger in under fire for failing to file thousands of court documents.

The chief circuit court judge has now ordered Clerk Karen Spranger to clean up her act reports WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.

In a letter dated Nov. 6, Judge James Biernat outlined the issues the clerk’s office needs to address to bring the backlog of court filings and processing up-to-date.  The issues include filling a multitude of job vacancies, inputting data on criminal histories and failing to utilize current staff. [READ LETTER TO CLERK SPRANGER]

Lori Henderson has practiced family law for 32 years — asked if she’s come across this type of backlog from the Clerk’s office  — she has not.

“No. Never,” said Henderson.

Case after case, she says, where she gets to court with her client only to find delays because the appropriate documents have not been filed within the court system — leaving the client to pay for the delay.

“People write legal arguments in a motion and request for relief and then you are waiting out in the hall for your motion to be heard and they are in there reading someone else’s because they can’t be prepared for you — and you are spending three hours when you could be spending an hour.”

With the cost of attorney fees in the range of hundreds of dollars — she says — it’s time and money for everyone involved. “We get to court and the referee or judge has no information as to why we are there.”

Chief Judge James Biernat has ordered the County Clerk to take care of the backlog of thousands of court filings, along with 1,600 criminal histories that are supposed to go on the police LEIN system for background checks.

The judge blames, in part, the numerous vacancies in the clerk’s office for the backlog.

Officials will meet on Monday to discuss their next move in an effort to force the Spranger to take care of business.

The embattled clerk, who won election to office running on an anti-government platform, is involved in several lawsuits – on both sides of the proceedings. She’s being sued by employees she’s fired, the county has filed suit to get rid of Spranger, with county attorneys allege she lied about where she lived when she filed her application to run for County Clerk. The address she used when she filed had water and other utilities shut off for years.

Spranger can’t be fired, because she is an elected official — and under Michigan law — voters can’t recall an officeholder during their first or last year of a four-year term.

Spranger, in turn, is suing the county and the Board of Commissioners.

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