Courts across Michigan have logged more than 500,000 hours of online hearings since proceedings were moved online in late March, according to the Michigan Supreme Court.
In order to prevent spread of COVID-19, judges and other court officers moved quickly to keep the doors to Michigan’s justice system open by holding remote proceedings using Zoom. Through a series of administrative orders, the court has authorized additional use of remote proceedings while safeguarding the rights of participants.
“Other states are copying Michigan’s example of tapping innovation and creativity to keep the doors of our justice system open,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “Achieving 500,000 hours of hearings is just the beginning because our response to the pandemic has created the opportunity to take a giant step forward toward our goals of accessible courts that are efficient and engaged with the local community.”
To maintain public access to virtual court proceedings and limit any potential for disruption, trial courts are livestreaming Zoom proceedings to YouTube.
The Virtual Courtroom Directory allows the public to find and view court proceedings statewide using an interactive map that allows users to pick a county or judge and view proceedings.
Courts are required to either livestream proceedings to YouTube live or to post a video of those proceedings immediately after the event.
The chart below shows the steady increase of Zoom hearings since April. From about 10,000 hours in the first week, the average weekly total has climbed to about 50,000 hours.
Michigan Lawyers Weekly talked to judges, magistrates and court administrators in May about how they rose to the challenge of providing access to justice for Michiganders. While there were some bumps along the way, they all agreed that it’s been successful.