63rd District Court
The 63rd District Court is a county funded independent branch of government committed to the prompt, courteous and fair dispensation of justice by adjudicating cases in a timely manner using effective and efficient case management techniques, adhering to the highest standards that maintain the statutory and constitutional rights of all citizens, monitoring the enforcement of judgments, and being responsible stewards of public funds.
Judge Jeffrey J. O’Hara
Chief Judge Jeffrey J. O’Hara grew up in Grand Rapids. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and received his Juris Doctorate Degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1985. He was a private practice trial attorney until being elected as Judge of the 63rd District Court in 2014.
In 2012, Judge O'Hara was admitted as a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation for his outstanding legal ability.
From 2016 through 2020, Martindale Hubbell has rated Judge O'Hara "AV Preeminent," which is the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards reflecting the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and Judiciary.
Judge Sara J. Smolenski
Judge Sara J. Smolenski is a Grand Rapids native. She earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Grand Rapids Junior College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan. In 1982, she earned a Juris Doctorate Degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She was elected to the bench in 1990.
The 63rd District Court is one of five District Courts in the County. See map for 63rd District Court's coverage area.
What is a District Court and what do they do?
The District Court is a trial court of limited jurisdiction. It is divided into 101 judicial districts, ranging in size from a single city or township to multiple counties. The District Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the following types of cases:
- Civil suits involving $25,000 or less
- Adult criminal misdemeanor offenses punishable by up to one year’s imprisonment.
- Civil infractions/Traffic Violations
- Landlord/tenant disputes, such as eviction proceedings.
- Small claims (civil suits involving $6,000 or less)
- Land contract forfeitures
In addition to its jurisdiction to try adult criminal offenses punishable by up to one year’s imprisonment, the district court is the court in which all other adult criminal proceedings begin, regardless of the nature of the offense. In carrying out this function, the district court has jurisdiction to:
- Issue arrest and search warrants
- Set bail and accept bond
- Conduct misdemeanor and felony arraignments
- Preside over preliminary examinations for felony and misdemeanor offenses outside its trial jurisdiction
- Perform civil marriage ceremonies
District Court decisions are generally appealable to the Circuit Court, although a different appeal process applies to informal hearings involving civil traffic infractions.
Frequently Called Court Office Numbers
- Main Line: (616) 632-7770
- Traffic: (616) 632-7780 or (616) 632-7786
- Small Claims: (616) 632-7771
- General Civil: (616) 632-7772 or (616) 632-7776
- Landlord Tenant: (616) 632-7773
- Probation: (616) 632-7800
- Criminal FAX: (616) 363-6124
- Traffic FAX: (616) 363-6211
- Civil FAX: (616) 363-6904
- Collections: (616) 632-7790 DCCollections@kentcountymi.gov
Other Court Office Numbers
- 17th Circuit Court Clerk's Office: (616) 632-5480
- Kent County Prosecutor's Office: (616) 632-6710
- Victim/Witness Division: (616) 632-5400
- 17th Circuit Court Administration: (616) 632-5220
- Family Division/Juvenile Center: (616) 336-3748
- Court Services: (616) 632-5350
- Kent County Sheriff's Dept.: (616) 632-6100
- Inmate Information: (616) 632-6300
- Probate Court: (616) 632-5440
- Friend of the Court: (616) 632-6888
- Continue to improve case processing; align staff and judicial and prosecutorial resources to focus on expediency
- Maximize collection of fines and fees (and restitution)
- Maximize effectiveness of existing staff.
- Administer the law in compliance with state statutes and court rules
- Provide timely caseflow management (due process) of all cases filed with the court
- Provide a quality of services to all litigants and defendants