Two panels issue report on judiciary's pandemic response, public access to court proceedings

The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) on Wednesday announced the completion of work by two key expert panels: the Lessons Learned Committee, which assessed the Michigan justice system’s response to the pandemic; and the Task Force on Open Courts, Media, and Privacy, which assessed how the courts enable public access to judicial proceedings. Both panels reached out to gather public and judicial system feedback to assist them with finalizing their respective reports and make recommendations for the future of Michigan courts, which will be considered by the Michigan Supreme Court. 

The final reports from both panels, as well as compiled public feedback, are available online at www.courts.michigan.gov/covid-19-news-resources/latest-information-on-covid-19.

The Lessons Learned Committee, formed in May 2020, provided findings, best practices and recommendations regarding four key areas:

• Emergency preparedness and response.

• Continuity of operations and planning for return to full capacity.

• The virtual courtroom and remote proceedings.

• A review of criminal procedure issues arising as the courts begin to tackle the backlog of criminal cases.

SCAO thanks and acknowledges the following members of the Committee for their diligence and focus on this effort:

• Co-Chair Judge T.J. Ackert, 17th Circuit Court, Kent County

• Co-Chair Judge Patricia P. Fresard, 3rd Circuit Court, Wayne County

• Judge Travis Reeds, 52-1 District Court, Novi

• Jennifer Greico, trial attorney, Oakland County

• Shaheen Imami, probate attorney, Oakland County

• Brandy Robinson, supervising attorney, Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit

• Matthew Wiese, prosecuting attorney, Marquette County

The Task Force on Open Courts, Media, and Privacy, formed in the fall of 2020, considered and addressed questions about how courts should make online proceedings available to the public via livestreaming in order to appropriately balance the need for transparency and access with the need for privacy in some proceedings. 

SCAO also thanks the following members of the Task Force for participating in this important project:

• Co-Chair Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, Michigan Court of Appeals

• Co-Chair Professor Len Niehoff, University of Michigan Law School, and Honigman Law Firm

• Chief Judge Freddie Burton, Jr., Wayne County Probate Court

• Judge Christopher Ninomiya, 41st Circuit Court, Dickinson County

• Judge Cynthia Ward, 54-A District Court, Lansing

• Brian Dickerson, editorial page editor, Detroit Free Press

• Kathy Hagenian, executive policy director, Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

• Professor Joshua Kay, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Michigan Child Advocacy Law Clinic

• David Leyton, prosecutor, Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office

• Lisa McGraw, public affairs manager, Michigan Press Association

• Karl Numinen, criminal defense attorney, Numinen DeForge & Toutant PC

• Lisa Roose-Church, judicial correspondent, Michigan Information & Research Service

• Jeannie Wernet, Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan


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