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Litigating in Michigan: A Guide for General Counsel on Court Closures and New Orders

April 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused every one of us to face delays, cancellations and postponements in our daily lives. During this period of unprecedented disruption, those with matters pending before the courts face additional uncertainties. As the response to the pandemic and government restrictions on business operations and public gatherings continue to evolve, the courts have had to balance the importance of protecting public health and safety with the need to conduct their essential functions that have profound effects on the rights, property and liberty of the citizens within their jurisdiction.

On March 18, 2020 the Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-2, which requires Michigan trial courts to limit access to courtrooms and offices, as well as restrict court activity to essential functions. While that order superseded previous orders issued by Michigan trial courts, the trial courts have continued to issue individual orders and announcements with varying instructions as to how they will carry out their essential functions, and how litigants and their attorneys should operate during the crisis. Many courts have adjourned all non-emergency civil, criminal, domestic relations and probate matters, while other courts are making efforts to conduct business, including trials, via video or teleconference technology.

This summary outlines the instructions provided by the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, circuit courts and probate courts regarding their operations during the COVID-19 emergency. It further outlines the operations of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This list will be updated as courts provide additional instruction in response to this evolving crisis. Please reach out to a Varnum attorney to discuss any concerns you may have regarding the status of a pending or future matter.

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