Judging the Need for Prelims

Preliminary hearings in criminal cases can be high drama but some Michigan officials say the proceedings are leading to high costs too.

Michigan's top police officer thinks the state should cut back on these hearings.

"If we do that, we save all kinds of hours of police time. We save prosecutor time. We actually move defendants through the system quicker," Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox (search) told FOX News.

The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether a case has enough evidence to go to trial — the ACLU (search) says this is a stage of the judicial process that cannot be disregarded. Some defense attorneys agree that the preliminary hearing is an important safeguard in the judicial system.

"There are other mechanisms they can use in the process to make sure that cops aren't wasting their time, or anyone else is wasting their time, such as pretrial conferences and stuff," said Shelli Weisberg, legislative director of the Michigan ACLU.

Republican state Sen. Alan Cropsey (search) has introduced legislation that conflicts with the ACLU's stance. Cropsey hopes to eliminate preliminary hearings in Michigan based on the fact that there is no constitutional right to such a court session.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.