Trial Courts Continue to Provide Essential Services under “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order

The Michigan Supreme Court has announced that following the guidance of Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, the Court’s Administrative Order 2020-2 remains in effect. As described in AO 2020-2, trial courts must continue to operate to provide essential functions.

“As the crisis has grown, Michigan’s courts have shown they are up to the challenge of both reducing exposure to risk in court facilities while simultaneously innovating to ensure access to courts remains uninterrupted,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack.  “My colleagues and I are very proud of our judiciary and the talented professionals who are dedicated to making sure those who depend on us in an emergency can continue to be served while limiting face-to-face contact. And we thank the Governor for taking bold action that allows courts to maintain essential services to protect the health and safety of the public while safeguarding the rights of all.”

Essential functions include arraignments for in-custody defendants, review and determination of requests for search warrants and personal protection orders, certain child protective proceedings, and critical issues regarding child support and child custody, among others as specified in the order. AO 2020-2 provides courts with additional flexibility to conduct business using technology such as video and telephone conferencing.

In AO 2020-2 which was issued on Wednesday, March 18, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered all trial courts statewide “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.” Previously, Administrative Order 2020-1 instructed courts to take reasonable measures to avoid exposing individuals to COVID-19.

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