The coronavirus outbreak has caused mass hysteria and panic worldwide. The hardest hit areas as of this writing have been in Europe and China. The effects of the virus have now hit the United States in the forms of travel bans, event size restrictions, and general disruption of every day American life as we know it. Schools have been cancelled, sports leagues have suspended play, and an increasing number of people have caught the coronavirus in the United States. As of now there have been just over 1,600 cases of coronavirus nationwide, which have resulted in 41 deaths. The virus saw its first outbreak in Wuhan, China and has been spreading worldwide at an alarming pace. Italy, Spain and other countries are going into complete lockdowns to try to curb the spread of coronavirus. The state of Michigan has seen less than 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, but this number is expected to increase. While many people have been sent home to work remotely, others face the possibility of losing their jobs due to the coronavirus. Courtroom matters are typically handled in person, so the effects of the coronavirus can be significant for Michigan courts.
Coronavirus Affecting Michigan Courts
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack issued a memo on March 11, 2020 to all state trial courts recommending adjournments. The aim of this memo is to adjourn all jury trials, whether they were civil or criminal unless there was some special reason in a specific case such as a defendant being held in custody for an extended amount of time awaiting trial. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently declared a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. This recommendation to adjourn all trial is meant to apply for the duration of the State of Emergency until the situation gets under better control.
Royal Oak’s 44th District Court has canceled in-person reporting for probationers for the current time. They have instructed probationers to contact their probation officers to arrange for alternate methods of reporting. As of now, they are not planning to close the courthouse completely. They have also adjourned all jury trials and converted jury trial dates to final pretrials to allow for possible resolutions in these cases. Any jurors that were expecting to appear for jury service have been excused of their requirement to appear by the court.
What Could Happen Next?
As this situation continues to unfold, we may likely see more unprecedented actions in order to try to get the coronavirus outbreak under some level of control. Michigan health officials have been preparing for weeks for a possible outbreak of coronavirus. It is not out of the realm of possibility for courts to close altogether while this situation looks for a solution. There were 150 cases of possible coronavirus that were being closely monitored as of Thursday, March 12 and until that number goes down instead of up, expect the unexpected. This is uncharted territory for everyone here. The World Health Organization recently declared coronavirus as a global pandemic and the President of the United States also declared a National Emergency, which opened up access to additional federal funds that will be used to combat this outbreak.
Any Further Questions?
If you are expected to be in court, it is your responsibility to find out if your court date is still valid or if it was changed. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.