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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. See also Administrative Order No. 2020-19. These administrative orders are in effect "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order No. 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.


Adjournments

"Although adjournments are permitted when necessary, courts are directed to implement measures to ensure all matters may proceed as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances, given the particular public health conditions in each locality and the technology resources and staffing situations in place at each court." Administrative Order No. 2020-6, fn 1. AO 2020-6 is effective "until further order of the Court." Administrative Order No. 2020-12. Note that "all courts must adopt a...

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.” The form used to collect contact information is confidential, and attorney email addresses...

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. Effective June 26, 2020, the deadline to file circuit court appeals and appeals of agency determinations is extended for 76 days. Administrative Order No. 2020-19(3). Civil Actions. Administrative Order No. 2020-3 and Executive Order No. 2020-58 provided that any day that fell during the state of emergency declared by the Governor related to COVID-19 must not be included for purposes of computing time pursuant to MCR 1.108 for filing deadlines applicable to the...

Guardians/Guardians Ad Litem

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 2020-158(8), 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...

Jury Trials

Previously “all jury trials [were] delayed . . . until June 22, 2020[], or as otherwise provided for by local order, whichever date [was] later.” See Administrative Order No. 2020-10. However, effective June 26, 2020, “[c]ourts that have progressed to Phase 3 under the Return to Full Capacity guidance document under Administrative Order No. 2020-14 shall begin holding jury trials using trial standards approved by the State Court Administrative Office.” Administrative Order No. 2020-19(1). “[C]ourts...

Landlord-Tenant Issues

Adjournments/Tolling Periods/Deadlines. Previously, any statutory limitations on adjourning proceeding, tolling any redemption/limitations periods, or extending any deadlines were suspended through July 31, 2020. See Executive Order No. 2020-134(6). Evictions. "Beginning July 16, 2020, Michigan landlords and lenders are strongly encouraged to take advantage of COVID-19 housing debt remedies, rather than pursuing eviction or foreclosure." EO 2020-134. Further, subject to the conditions set out in EO...

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...

 

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