16 March 2020

Michigan Supreme Court Emphasizes Public Safety over Procedure, Allows Trial Courts To Implement Emergency Measures

***Information and guidance in client updates was up to date at time of publication. During the pandemic, information and guidance has been changing rapidly. If you have any questions about the information contained in a client update, please contact the author(s) or your Miller Johnson attorney.***

On March 15, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an administrative order giving trial courts broad discretion to implement emergency measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  These measures may include adjourning civil matters; maximizing the use of technology to facilitate remote participation in hearings and electronic filing and service; reducing in-person hearings to limit the number of people interacting in court facilities; and waiving strict adherence to procedural time requirements.

Kent County Circuit Court has already begun implementing emergency measures, including permitting the adjournment of any civil case upon approval of the assigned Judge and requiring any person who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who has traveled to certain Level 3 countries (China, Iran, Italy, South Korea) in the last 14 days to participate in court proceedings by telephone.  The 63rd District Court has adjourned all civil trials, civil motions, and other proceedings in civil cases until a date after May 1, 2020.

COVID-19 is disrupting ongoing litigation as well as cases that parties are preparing to file.  We expect to see extensions to discovery deadlines, loosening of service of process rules, and greater use of technology to facilitate video depositions and hearings.  For some ongoing civil matters, it may be prudent to move for an adjournment of proceedings.  We also anticipate that the federal courts, including our local Western District, may begin to take similar emergency measures to protect the public.

The Miller Johnson team continues to monitor these Court measures to assist our clients with their litigation needs while they prioritize the safety of their businesses and workplaces.