Civil Counsel

When most people hear the word prosecutor, they think of the attorney prosecuting offenders in the criminal justice system. Although this statement is true, the county prosecutor’s duties are more than that.

Under Michigan law a county prosecutor is given the responsibility to prosecute or defend “all prosecutions, suits, applications whether civil or criminal in which the state or county may be a party or interest” (MCL 49.153). In addition, a county prosecutor is responsible to give opinions “when required by a civil officer in the officer’s respective official duties…” (MCL 49.155).

As the County’s civil counsel, the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor fulfills its statutory obligations by providing legal advice and consultation to the County Board of Commissioners, County Administration, and various County Officials in a variety of ways. These include the following:

Contract Review & Drafting

We assist various County departments in reviewing and drafting contracts and other agreements. Our involvement ranges from reviewing a contract and approving it “as to form,” to negotiating the terms and conditions of the contract with the other party.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordination
In 1997, the Board of Commissioners designated the Prosecuting Attorney as the FOIA coordinator for Grand Traverse County. As the coordinator, we ensure that the various county departments are complying with Michigan’s FOIA law including determining whether the requested information should be exempt from disclosure.

Board of Commissioners / Staff Opinions
Part of our duties as Civil Counsel involves answering questions and preparing opinion memorandum for the Board of Commissioners and County staff related to a wide variety of issues, ranging from compliance with state and federal statutes to advising on exposure to liability.

Ordinance Drafting
Under state law, MCL 46.11, a county board of commissioners has the authority to adopt ordinances related to county affairs. One of our responsibilities is to prepare, amend or repeal ordinances when requested by the Board of Commissioners.

Civil Litigation
We represent the County in civil actions filed in the Grand Traverse County District and Circuit Courts as well as the Federal District Courts. We also assist the City of Traverse City and Townships in defending tax appeals filed in Michigan’s Tax Tribunal.

Board of Commissioners Meetings
We attend every Board meeting, committee meeting and any special meetings. We will also attend other boards or committee meetings (e.g. Road Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Commission on Aging, etc) when requested by that particular board or official.