Another side effect of the pandemic affecting local communities is a backlog of court cases as many mid-Michigan counties haven’t had a jury trial in more than a year.
Hundreds of cases are still waiting to go to trial.
“I suspect the rest of the year will be a very busy trial season,” said J. Dee Brooks the Midland County Prosecuting Attorney.
The right to a fair trial is taking longer than normal in many mid-Michigan courts.
“The cases have gotten backed up and unfortunately our last jury trial here was March of 2020,” Brooks said.
Brooks said more than a year after the pandemic forced the courts to close and cases continue to pile up.
“I count 34 felony cases in circuit court that are waiting to proceed to trial,” Brook said.
That number doesn't compare to the massive amount of cases that are backlogged in Genesee County.
“There’s at least a thousand cases waiting for a preliminary examination in district court,” said David Leyton, Genesee County Prosecutor.
Leyton said the county was already behind before the pandemic. Making the game of catch up even more difficult.
“I mean it’s going to take two three years before we’er back to pre-pandemic status,” Leyton said.
According to the State Court Administrative Office, counties must see a reduction in COVID-19 cases for a period of time before in-person court proceedings are allowed. While midland county is hoping that will happen by summer, Genesee County could resume preliminary hearings as early as next week.
“And I told my staff that it’s all hands-on deck which means that everybody including yours truly will be down in the courthouse handling cases,” Leyton said.