TROY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Coronavirus concerns are now impacting the courts in Michigan. One district court judge is self-isolating after returning home from Italy, and others are preparing to postpone jury trials.
The state supreme court is now recommending that judges adjourn all civil jury trials, and some criminal trials.
Meanwhile, a district court judge is Troy has to stay home for 14 days after an overseas trip, which means other judges will handle her cases, and at least one of her trials has been postponed.
In Troy, 52-4 District Court Judge Kirsten Nielson Hartig is in self-isolation after returning Friday from a trip to Italy.
“We have, out of an abundance of caution, even before the state of emergency was declared, decided to not have her return to the county facility… for a period of 14 days,” said 52nd District Court Chief Judge Joseph Fabrizio. Judge Fabrizio says Judge Hartig has no symptoms of coronavirus, and she’s checking in with health officials daily.
“She certainly is quite understanding of the whole situation, and I think that people’s health and safety is first and foremost on her mind,” Just Fabrizio told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.
Judge Fabrizio also says because of Michigan’s State of Emergency declaration for the coronavirus, his courts are now suspending jury selection pools for as many cases as possible.
“That’s the time when the bulk of the jurors would be in one assembly room together, many times 40, 50 jurors in one room together. So if that can be avoided, it should be,” said Judge Fabrizio.
The State Supreme Court cannot order courts to close, but they are recommending that all civil jury trials be postponed. They’re recommending that criminal trials be rescheduled as well, unless the defendant is in custody. Judges also want you to contact the court before arriving if you’re feeling ill.
“Whether you’re a witness, a defendant, a juror, if you have any concerns at all, contact the court,” said Judge Fabrizio. “We will do everything we can to accommodate. It’s issues where we don’t hear from somebody and they don’t show up, that there could be some sort of adverse consequence to the case.”
Here are some of the other recommendations from the Michigan Supreme Court for county and municipal courts:
DOCKET MANAGEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
- Consider adjourning hearings with vulnerable persons, for example:
- Individuals age 60 and over are at risk, especially if already medically compromised
- Adult guardianship proceedings
Develop plan for remote hearings, including but not limited to:
- All arraignments
- Mental health trials
- Guardian ad litem proceedings
- Do not default or bench warrant individuals for failing to appear during period of emergency
- Adjourn jury trials
- Civil jury trials should be adjourned
- Criminal jury trials should be adjourned unless defendant is in custody or there have been other long delays.
At U.S. District Courts in the Eastern District of Michigan, the following rules have been implemented:
“The Court has been closely monitoring this situation and has issued this notice out of an abundance of caution,” Court Administrator David Weaver said in announcing the measures that have been implemented at its courthouses in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bay City, Flint and Port Huron.
Anyone entering our courthouses must advise Court Security Officers before passing through screening if they have:
- Visited China, South Korea, Italy or Iran in the previous 14 days. The list may be updated based on further guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Resided with or been in close contact with someone who has been in any of those countries within the previous 14 days.
Traveled domestically within the United States where COVID-19 has sustained widespread community transmission;
- Been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital or health agency;
- Been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
-A fever, cough or shortness of breath.
ANYONE ATTEMPTING TO ENTER IN VIOLATION OF THESE PROTOCOLS WILL BE DENIED ENTRY BY A COURT SECURITY OFFICER.
The restrictions will remain in place until it is determined to be safe to remove them.
People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
If you have a scheduled appointment or are otherwise required to appear at one of the courthouses in the Eastern District of Michigan, and you are unable to do because of these restrictions:
- Contact your attorney if you are represented by one;
- Contact judicial chambers immediately if you are an attorney and are scheduled to appear in court before a judge (see judicial contact information under the “Judges” tab on the court’s website at mied.uscourts.gov);
-Contact Pretrial Services at (313) 234-5300 if you are scheduled to meet with a Pretrial Services Officer.
- Contact the Probation office at (313) 234-5400 if you are scheduled to meet with a Probation Officer.
- Contact the Jury Department at (313) 234-5085 if you are a juror.
For all other matters, please contact the Court Administrator’s Office at (313) 234-50