Webpage offers approved plans for reopening trial courts

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The Michigan Supreme Court launched a new webpage that explains reopening plans for the state’s trial courts.

Plans must first be approved by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO).

As a result, each court must draft step-by-step reopening plans that involve, according to Administrative Order No. 2020-14, meeting various benchmarks based on local public health data as public facilities gradually phase in operations.

Per the administrative order, “courts should consider expanding in-person operations with diligent regard for health and safety practices as determined in consultation with local health officials and considering the capacity of the community’s health system and as approved by SCAO.”

Once approved, the plan will be made publicly available on the new webpage.

“As Michigan continues to reopen, our courts are also working to reopen their buildings safely by taking a consistent, phased approach that reflects local conditions,” Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack said. “In response to the pandemic, Michigan’s judiciary has been leading the nation in opening the virtual doors of justice to everyone. By posting reopening plans online, we can now make sure that all residents know when court buildings will be open and for what purpose.”

The SCAO released guidance, “Return to Full Capacity, COVID-19 Guidelines for Michigan’s Judiciary, a 23-page guideline that is a combination of reopening advice published by the U.S. federal courts, the White House, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Judges and other court officers have been conducting remote proceedings in virtual courtrooms.

Further details regarding how reopening plans are developed and approved are available on the Return to Full Capacity page.

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