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Oakland County defense attorneys fear lack of COVID vaccinations and in-person trials

Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 22:51:32-05

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — We’ve learned a backlog of hundreds of criminal cases here in Oakland County is a consideration that’s promoted the return of in-person trials later this month. But, one attorney is raising health and safety concerns tied to COVID-19.

She works as both an Oakland County criminal defense attorney and a public defender with some clients who've waited a year for their cases to go to trial in circuit court.

“My concern is I’m being ordered into court, for a jury trial and I haven’t had an opportunity to sign-up for the vaccine yet,” said Pamela Johnson, defense attorney.

Johnson points to the fact some prosecutors have been vaccinated, falling into the category of law enforcement. Yet, both hired and court-appointed defense counsel aren't currently eligible for vaccines. MDHHS and the health department confirm they are however part of the next group to get the shot.

“We can’t wait to get back into the courtroom and advocate for our clients who are presumed innocent," Johnson said. "We don’t want more delays but we are risking our lives at this point.”

Watch Simon Shaykhet's full report in the video player above.