Northern Michigan Courts Return to In-Person Trials While Facing Case Backlog

Courts across the state are getting back to in-person jury trials, while also dealing with a back log of cases.

Like most everything else in the past year, court proceedings have looked different and went largely virtual.

But, they’re slowly returning to in-person business and in person trials.

Isabella County has been holding trials since February.

“I would say we’re fairly backed up. It’s difficult to tell how long it will take us to get entirely caught up The reality is you know, in a year we may try five to six cases total, and in the last 60 to 70 days we’ve tried six cases already, and we have a trial scheduled every week right now for the next two to three months. I’m hopeful that buy in the fall, or towards the end the end of fall, but I would guess probably by about November we should be pretty well caught up with the backlog,” said Isabella County Prosecuting Attorney David Barberi.

Circuit Court in Wexford County is also backed up.

They just got the green light to resume in person trials in the coming weeks.

They’ve been on pause since the fall.

“We’ve just been moved to what’s known as phase 3, which is going to finally allow us to do trials. We still have to do them in a way that protects people and ensures health and safety. The problem is, we’ve had a significant backlog build up, but we’re ready to start handling that backlog soon,” said 28th Circuit Court Judge Jason Elmore.

Courts say it may take a while to catch up on the case load, but returning to in-person trials, is a major step forward.

“I think the plan we’ve got in place, and the process that we’ve utilized is really going to make sure justice is not further delayed both for crime victims, and defendants, and civil litigants,” said Barberi.

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