Michigan Supreme Court Recommends Suspending Jury Trials Over Coronavirus Concerns

WWJ News
March 11, 2020 - 3:10 pm

(WWJ) The Michigan Supreme Court has recommended that all civil jury trials in the state, as well as all criminal jury trials where the defendant is not in custody, be adjourned due to concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

The news came Wednesday, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday night announced that two people had tested positive for the virus in the state; both in the metro Detroit area.

In response, the governor declared a State of Emergency and urged everyone to take preventive measures to lower their risk and protect coworkers, family, and friends from the spread of the virus. 

In addition to recommending a hold on all jury trials (excluding those with a defendant awaiting trial in jail), the Supreme Court recommends judged not hold any person in contempt of court because they were late due to a virus-related issue.

"Michigan’s judiciary is heeding this advice and taking action to lower the risk to litigants, court staff, and the public who visit our courts. We are also committed to making sure that our justice system continues to operate," Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack said, in a statement.  

McCormack is urging courts to comply with advice from state and county health departments, and implement plans for remote hearings whenever possible.

Any restrictions on court proceedings are expected to continue while the State of Emergency remains in effect. 

Also announced Wednesday, anyone entering federal courthouses in Michigan will be required to must advise Court Security Officers before passing through security  screening if they have:

  • Visited China, South Korea, Italy or Iran in the previous 14 days. The list may be updated based on further guidance from the CDC 
  • Resided with or been in close contact with someone who has been in any of those
  • countries within the previous 14 days.
  • Traveled domestically within the United States where COVID-19 has sustained widespread community transmission;
  • Been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital or health agency;
  • Been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • A fever, cough or shortness of breath.
     

The above listed restrictions will remain in place until it is determined to be safe to remove them, officials said. 

If you have a scheduled appointment or are otherwise required to appear at one of the courthouses in the Eastern District of Michigan, and you are unable to do because
of these restrictions you are urged to:

  • Contact your attorney if you are represented by one;
  • Contact judicial chambers immediately if you are an attorney and are scheduled to appear in court before a judge (see judicial contact information under the “Judges”
  • tab on the court’s website at mied.uscourts.gov);
  • Contact Pretrial Services at 313-234-5300 if you are scheduled to meet with a Pretrial Services Officer.
  • Contact the Probation office at 313-234-5400 if you are scheduled to meet with a Probation Officer.
  • Contact the Jury Department at 313-234-5085 if you are a juror.
  • For all other matters, please contact the Court Administrator’s Office at 313-234-5051.

For more detailed information visit the judiciary coronavirus web page. For ongoing coronavirus updates from the state, visit michigan.gov/coronavirus