Will COVID-19 Affect Judicial Elections?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a dramatic effect on the Michigan criminal justice system. Governor Whitmer has declared a state of emergency, and trial courts have implemented emergency measures. One such action the Michigan Supreme Court is Administrative Order No 2020-1 to advise trial lawyers and court participants to use caution. While these measures are in place to protect society, another aspect of COVID-19 is what role it will play in the 2020 Michigan Judicial Elections. To gather insight on this issue, we had the chance to speak to three of the top lawyers in the state of Michigan.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which has offices in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grabel’s law firm is known as the top criminal defense team across the state of Michigan. When asked how COVI-19 will affect the judicial elections, Grabel stated, “2020 is going to be an essential election in our trial courts. With the fear of this horrible disease and with the crime rate in Michigan being at historical highs, we will need reasonable minds on our bench. These factors may also lead to a minimal voter turnout, which is concerning for our justice system.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Washtenaw, Wayne, and Shiawassee Counties and regularly works before those courts. About judicial elections and the COVID-19 panic, Amadeo said, “These are scary times, and no matter the status of our state and country, these elections are going to occur, and absentee ballots will be pivotal. In Wayne County, it is going to be essential that Referee Nicholas Hathaway gets on the bench at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. With the volume in Detroit, a forward-thinking justice like Referee Hathaway brings a wealth of understanding from his career as a prosecutor and a Referee. As for Shiawassee County, Judge Matthew Stewart has been a mentor of mine, and I can’t imagine why anybody would consider running against him. If there is an election in Corunna, I’ll encourage people to back Judge Stewart.”

Matthew McManus is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has a heavy civil docket. When asked for his insight in the Washtenaw elections, McManus stated, “With COVID-19 being present, we can anticipate a low voter turnout. Even in a politically active county like Washtenaw, I don’t expect people to rush to the polls. In the 14-B District Court elections, Erane Washington would be an asset because of her knowledge of both criminal and civil litigation. On our circuit court, Amy Reiser has been an excellent prosecutor and always is concerned for victims. This crisis is creating victims of a different kind. We need to work together, and I feel that Amy (Reiser) understands the crisis that we are enduring.”

Grabel went on to add, “Most criminal lawyers do not consider the importance of whom is on the bench. Now more than ever, the judicial elections will be a pathway into the future of our criminal justice system. We need to stand together through the COVID-19 crisis, and we need to get out and vote.”

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