Wayne County Third Circuit Court hits pause button on evidentiary hearings, jury and bench trials

Court sites rise in COVID-19 cases as reason behind move

Donald G. McDonald of Lincoln Park plead guilty Sept. 21 in Wayne County’s Third Circuit Court to felony embezzlement and forgery charges and three misdemeanors, including larceny by conversion and two charitable gaming license violations, for crimes against two Wayne County charities.
Donald G. McDonald of Lincoln Park plead guilty Sept. 21 in Wayne County’s Third Circuit Court to felony embezzlement and forgery charges and three misdemeanors, including larceny by conversion and two charitable gaming license violations, for crimes against two Wayne County charities.

DETROIT – Wayne County’s Third Circuit Court is continuing to ensure the health and safety of jurors, judicial stakeholders, court users, and the public.

After creating an extensive safety plan which included health screening and the installation of plexi-shield barriers in courtrooms, the Third Circuit Court resumed jury trials the week of Sept. 21.

Two jury trials were successfully conducted in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The jurors who appeared indicated that they felt safe and comfortable with all of the extra precautions and safety measures.

However, the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases necessitates that the Court once again stop jury trials, bench trials, and evidentiary hearings.

Chief Judge Timothy M. Kenny has a standing call with Wayne County officials to discuss issues related to the pandemic. The Director of Wayne County Public Health, Carol Austerberry, is a participant on that call.

“It is crucial under our Local Administrative Order that I discuss the trajectory of documented cases to determine the safety of court operations. As the numbers are on an upward spiral, it is clear that it would not be safe to continue jury trials, bench trials, and evidentiary hearings at this time,” Judge Kenny explained.

Jurors who have received summons will be notified that their jury service has been completed: they are not required to serve as a juror for the Court for at least the next 12 months.

The Court will continue hearing other matters remotely via Zoom, and jury trials and other in-person trials and evidentiary hearings are expected to resume starting Jan. 6, 2021.

Chief Judge Kenny in his notice to the bench reiterated, “The Third Circuit Court has taken important steps to ensure everyone’s health and safety in the courthouses. Two successful jury trials have already taken place. We plan to build on our successful efforts.”

Coronavirus in Michigan 🦠

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 184,889 as of Monday, including 7,357 deaths, state officials report.

Monday’s update represents 6,709 new cases and 17 additional deaths over the past two days.

Here’s a look at more of the data: