April 9, 2020

This is pretty much just a rehash of my Twitter thread from earlier today, but thought I’d include it here too for posterity…

Lawyers and legal services providers who are dissatisfied with how their courts’ operations are responding in light of COVID-related closures need to see what @MISupremeCourt and the Michigan Court system are doing. Because they are hitting it out of the park. (Thread)

(1) Start by reading Michigan Chief Justice @BridgetMaryMc‘s memorandum re: Expanding Remote Proceedings. https://courts.michigan.gov/News-Events/Documents/Expanding%20Remote%20Proceedings.pdf

(2) Then review her Administrative Order No. 2020-6 Expanding Authority for Judicial Officers to Conduct Proceedings Remotely. https://courts.michigan.gov/Courts/MichiganSupremeCourt/rules/court-rules-admin-matters/Administrative%20Orders/2020-08_2020-04-07_FormattedOrder_AO2020-6.pdf

(3) Read the newly created (and excellent) Michigan Trial Courts Virtual Courtroom Standards and Guidelines from the Michigan State Court Administrative Office. https://courts.michigan.gov/Administration/SCAO/Resources/Documents/standards/VCR_stds.pdf

(That last document was rapidly developed by a Virtual Courtroom Task Force with participants from numerous constituents: https://courts.michigan.gov/NewsEvents/Documents/Virtual%20Courtroom%20Task%20Force%20members.pdf…)

(4) See the updated Michigan Trial Court Standards for Courtroom Technology… https://courts.michigan.gov/Administration/SCAO/Resources/Documents/standards/ct_stds.pdf

(5) …and the more accessible resource website they put together on Using Zoom and Virtual Courtrooms. https://info.courts.mi.gov/virtual-courtroom-info

(6) Finally, note the step-by-step checklist they developed for all Michigan Courts, which covers limiting access to court buildings as required for safety, maintaining operations and case flow as much as possible, and resuming operations when appropriate. https://courts.michigan.gov/Administration/SCAO/Resources/Documents/COVID-19/CourtsAndCovid-19.pdf

This is it. This is the model that all courts should be following. If yours is falling short of Michigan’s gold standard, then take these materials and send ’em to anyone who will listen. Justice delayed is justice denied, and courts need to keep cases moving whenever possible.

And now Michigan has issued an Executive Order covering electronic signatures. https://twitter.com/mistatebar/status/1248193247903715329?s=21

I’ll try to keep this updated as I learn more. Other court systems are also doing good things from what I can tell (especially Cook County, Illinois–not sure yet whether that is a local or statewide effort). But a lot of courts are struggling with keeping matters moving forward in light of the shutdowns.

About the author 

John E. Grant

John E. Grant is a strategic consultant to legal professionals and their teams. As founder of the Agile Attorney Network, he helps legal teams harness the tools of modern entrepreneurship to build more profitable, scalable, and sustainable practices. Click here to book a no-cost discovery call with John today.

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