Officials: Virtual Michigan court proceedings here to stay

Michigan judges directed to carry out virtual proceedings whenever possible despite state reopening

LANSING, Mich. – Trial courts in Michigan are going to continue operating virtually where possible, despite much of the state slowly returning to a pre-pandemic normal, officials announced last week.

Related: Michigan lifts more COVID restrictions Tuesday: What’s changing

Michigan State Court Administrator Thomas Boyd said Tuesday that since the coronavirus pandemic forced most operations to go remote, courts are now “more accessible, more engaged and more efficient” than ever before.

“Remote proceedings are here to stay. Nearly 1,000 judges, magistrates and referees have Zoom licenses and have presided over more than 3 million hours of online proceedings. The result? Parties and their attorneys love it,” Boyd said in a May 27 press release. “The biggest boost to access to justice in our lifetimes. Exponential improvement in efficiency.”

As the state begins to reopen, and some courts plan to soon resume full-capacity operations, Michigan judges are still expected to carry out virtual proceedings whenever possible, Boyd said.

Related: Prosecutor catches alleged abuser in victim’s home during virtual Michigan court hearing

However, the state court administrator did say that some jury trials will be carried out in person moving forward.

" ... a thorough exploration of how to conduct a remote jury trial taught us that for some proceedings, there is no substitute for in-person, face-to-face attendance,” the press release reads.

You can read the entire announcement from the Michigan Supreme Court below.

More: Reopening Michigan news

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Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.