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COVID-19: Procedures Affected

Trial Court Procedures Affected by Administrative/Executive Order

In response to the current public health crisis, and pursuant to Const 1963, art 6, § 4, which provides for the Supreme Court’s general superintending control over all state courts, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 2020-1Administrative Order No. 2020-2, and Administrative Order No. 2020-6. These administrative orders are in effect "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order 2020-12. AO 2020-1 sets forth types of emergency measures courts may take to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. AO 2020-2 requires trial courts to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to no more than 10 persons, including staff, and to practice social distancing and limit court activity to only essential functions. AO 2020-6 requires all Michigan judges to make a good faith effort to conduct proceedings remotely whenever possible and authorizes judicial officers to conduct remote proceedings (whether physically present in the courtroom or elsewhere) using two-way interactive videoconferencing technology or other remote participation tools under certain conditions. For more information, see Conducting Remote Proceedings

The topics below address executive and administrative orders relevant to trial court proceedings. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.


Accepting Pleadings

The courts must work with the county clerk to ensure that if in-person filing of court pleadings is limited due to the state of emergency, court pleadings will continue to be accepted for filing by other means, such as U.S. mail, e-filing, email, or facsimile. Administrative Order No. 2020-2. This order is effective "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order No....

Adjournments

Administrative Order No. 2020-2 specifies matters that "should be" or "shall be" adjourned. However, Administrative Order No. 2020-6, fn 1 states that "[t]o the extent Administrative Order No. 2020-2 may be interpreted to require the adjournment of some matters, this order replaces that directive." AO 2020-6 further states that "[a]lthough adjournments are permitted when necessary, courts are directed to implement measures to ensure all matters may proceed as expeditiously as possible under the...

Collecting Party/Witness Contact Information

Administrative Order No. 2020-13 provides that “a court may collect contact information, including mobile phone number(s) and email address(es), from any party or witness to a case to facilitate scheduling of and participation in remote hearings or facilitate case processing” using a form approved by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO). AO 2020-13 “is effective until further order of the Court.” Collected contact information is confidential, and attorney email addresses “must be the...

Conducting Remote Proceedings

Administrative Order No. 2020-6 requires all Michigan judges to make a good faith effort to conduct proceedings remotely whenever possible and authorizes judicial officers to conduct remote proceedings (whether physically present in the courtroom or elsewhere) using two-way interactive videoconferencing technology or other remote participation tools under the following conditions:  any such procedures must be consistent with a party’s Constitutional rights; the procedure must enable...

Filing Deadlines

Circuit Court Appeals. The deadline to file circuit court appeals and appeals of agency determinations has been temporarily suspended. Administrative Order No. 2020-9, temporarily suspending certain deadlines “until further order of the Court.” See Administrative Order No. 2020-12. Civil Actions. Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2020-3 and Executive Order No. 2020-58, any day that falls during the state of emergency declared by the Governor related to COVID-19 must not be included for...

Guardians/Guardians Ad Litem

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 2020-74, a guardian, guardian ad litem, or visitor may satisfy any required visit with a person by conferring with that person via two-way real-time audiovisual technology that allows direct, contemporaneous interaction by sight and sound between the person being visited and the guardian, guardian ad litem, or visitor. EO 2020-74 remains in...

Landlord-Tenant Issues

See SCAO memorandum dated April 14, 2020 for additional information on evictions and summary proceedings during the public health emergency. Note that this memo discusses Executive Order No. 2020-19, which was rescinded and replaced by Executive Order No. 2020-54. EO 2020-54 was rescinded and replaced by Executive Order No. 2020-85. Evictions. EO 2020-85 temporarily suspends evictions and precludes any person from entering residential property to remove or exclude a tenant from the premises...

Matters Not Involving an Appearance

All matters that are resolved by agreement of the parties and with approval of the court that do not involve any appearance at the court may proceed during the pendency of the order, and may be documented using technology as authorized in Administrative Order No. 2020-1. Administrative Order No. 2020-2. Such authority does not extend to any matters suspended by executive action of the Governor. AO 2020-1 and AO 2002-2 are effective "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order No....

Personal Protection Orders (PPOs)

Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2020-11, “any personal protection order that expires [April 27, 2020,] through June 1, 2020, is automatically extended to July 21, 2020." AO 2020-11 provides a procedure for extension objections, hearings, and does not limit “a judge’s authority and ability to hold a hearing” regarding extension, modification, or termination of a personal protection order nor does it “prohibit[] a petitioner from consenting to termination of the personal protection order.” See also...

Pretrial Release

"In addition to giving consideration to other obligations imposed by law, trial courts are urged to take into careful consideration public health factors arising out of the present state of emergency . . . in making pretrial release decisions, including in determining any conditions of release[.]" Administrative Order No. 2020-1, which is in effect "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order No. 2020-12. The Michigan Supreme Court vacated a trial court's order “that denied the...

Probation Conditions

"In addition to giving consideration to other obligations imposed by law, trial courts are urged to take into careful consideration public health factors arising out of the present state of emergency . . . in determining any conditions of probation[.]" Administrative Order No. 2020-1, which is in effect "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order No. 2020-12. In the context of pretrial release conditions (similarly addressed in AO 2020-1), the Michigan Supreme Court vacated a trial...

Release Pending Appeal

Administrative Order No. 2020-1 instructs trial courts to “be mindful that taking reasonable steps to protect the public is more important than strict adherence to normal operating procedures”; accordingly, when determining whether to release a defendant convicted of an assaultive crime pending appeal, the trial court must consider both the public health emergency and the factors under MCL 770.9a(2). People v Barber, ___ Mich ___, ___ (2020) (holding the trial court erred by failing to...

Return to Full Capacity

Administrative Order No. 2020-14 provides that the return “to more normal work practices” will involve “meeting various benchmarks based on local public health data as public facilities gradually phase in operations,” and “courts must adhere to the phased return to operations as determined by policy guidelines established by the State Court Administrative Office.” The order sets out several conditions that must be included in any policy, and the “conditions remain in effect until further order of the...

Title IV-E Funding

“Despite the public health crisis that exists, it is critical that child welfare agencies and courts work together to ensure that the requisite judicial proceedings continue during this time of uncertainty[.]” See Department of Health & Human Services, Children’s Bureau Letter to Child Welfare and Judicial Leaders, which details the judicial determinations and proceedings that must be held in order to satisfy Title IV-E requirements as well as suggestions for ensuring courts continue “to...

Traffic Offenses

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 2020-78, “[u]ntil July 31, 2020, driving with a vehicle registration, operator’s license, or chauffeur’s license that expired on or after February 1, 2020 does not constitute a violation of the Michigan Vehicle Code.”

Watercraft Offenses

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 2020-101, “[u]ntil July 31, 2020, operating a watercraft with a decal that expired after September 30, 2019” or “operating a watercraft that was purchased after January 1, 2020 without a decal does not constitute a violation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.” 

 

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