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March 23, 2020

Breaking News & Critical Documents for Michigan Lawyers

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.

New Executive Order. Today, Gov. Whitmer issued an Executive Order directing all Michiganders to stay in their homes for at least the next three weeks, except for under very limited circumstances.

Here are the highlights for lawyers:

  • The order does not specifically exempt attorneys from the stay at home order as "critical infrastructure workers" necessary to sustain or protect life.
  • The order allows individuals to leave home to attend legal proceedings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court.
  • For purposes of managing and maintaining a law practice, the members of your staff whose job it is to facilitate the ability of others to work remotely may carry out their work in person. You will be required to designate who those persons are in writing by March 31.
  • The order provides "nothing in this order should be taken to interfere with or infringe on the powers of the legislative and judicial branches to perform their constitutional duties or exercise their authority."

New Michigan Supreme Court Order. The Michigan Supreme Court issued an order extending all deadlines pertaining to case initiation and the filing of initial responsive pleadings in civil and probate matters during the state of emergency declared by the Governor related to COVID-19. The order does not preclude a court from ordering an expedited response to a complaint or motion in order to hear and resolve an emergency matter requiring immediate attention.

The Michigan Supreme Court’s earlier Administrative Order, limiting trial courts to essential functions, remains in effect. Chief Justice McCormack and Justice Viviano outlined the reasons why closing Michigan courts isn’t an option in an op-ed over the weekend.

New COVID-19 Resources. We wanted to share with you all the resources we have available to you during this unprecedented situation:

  • We understand that you need to know exactly what the law says. We’re compiling important primary documents here, so you can quickly access the exact language you need. We’re going to start including these crucial primary documents in our NewsLinks newsletter. Please sign up here to get it in your inbox each weekday.
  • We are answering questions from Michigan lawyers here. In some cases, the questions we're receiving have not yet been answered by the decision-makers involved. Know that we are in touch with them and will share answers as we have them. If you have a question that hasn’t yet been answered, please ask us here.
  • We also have guidance to help you keep practicing and keep your equilibrium during the pandemic here.

We know that what you need to best serve your clients and the public is changing by the hour, and we are doing our best to help. Keep telling us what you need and we pledge to do everything possible to provide it.

State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St.
Lansing, MI 48933-2012