Governor Whitmer Issues Stay at Home Order, MSC Extends Deadlines

March 23, 2020

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 State Bar of Michigan is working to get clarity about this designation and will update this page as soon as possible.
  • 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 a recent op-ed.