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Criminal Trial During COVID

By Daniel T. Geherin

Geherin Law Group Client J.P., who is accused of home invasion, has been waiting for a criminal trial in Detroit since March 2020--with no date in sight. Client J.Z., accused of aggravated assault, has been waiting for her jury trial in Saline for over a year. Meanwhile, clients in Lenawee and Livingston have had their cases begin and end with successful jury trials during the Covid era. In addition, several clients have had their cases dismissed by simply setting their cases for trial.  

Are criminal cases still going to trial during Covid?  Yes—but they’re few and far between. Generally, courts are giving trial priority to defendants who are in custody. But even those clients suffer delays, as the rise of infections and variations often result in juries being cancelled or postponed.  For clients who are out on bond, they’re waiting months (and now years) to get their jury trials because they’re considered “low priority” by courts that are terribly backlogged.  

Dan Geherin, owner of the Geherin Law Group, PLLC. is an ex-prosecutor and board-certified criminal trial attorney in Ann Arbor.  Dan has been a part of the criminal justice system in Michigan for 25+ years. Dan and his team at GLG represent hundreds of clients charged with criminal offenses each year. Many of these clients are innocent or over-charged, so they have a constitutional right to have their cases go to trial.  

Every day, Dan takes calls from clients who are anxious and worried about their right to a trial; when they might have a trial; and whether that trial will be fair under the difficult circumstances. Typical questions include:

“How long will it be before I can get a jury trial?”

“Is a judge/bench trial an option for me?”

“Will the prosecutor dismiss my case if I demand a trial?”

Every county has handled the Pandemic differently. Currently, jury trials are proceeding in places like Jackson, Lenawee and Livingston Counties. Washtenaw County is generally only conducting jury trials for incarcerated defendants, while Wayne County isn’t conducting any felony jury trials at all.   Judge and bench trials are a much different animal---most counties are freely conducting these trials, with protective measures in place. Whether a judge or bench trial is a smart strategy depends on the case, the judge, and other factors. The defendant and the prosecutor must agree to a judge/bench trial.  

This is unchartered territory for the criminal justice system in Michigan and throughout the country. If you’re accused of crimes, the fear and anxiety increase significantly without knowing how, when and where your trial will play out. What might help you?  Having a seasoned, dedicated and specialized criminal defense attorney navigate these unchartered waters and make the best decisions to help preserve your reputation and freedom.  

For questions about trials, or about any criminal issue, in Ann Arbor or throughout Washtenaw County, please contact Dan Geherin and his team at GLG Michigan.  Schedule your appointment here, or call 24/7 (734) 263-2780.   

GLG Michigan: Handling criminal cases—from investigation through trial---in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and throughout Southeastern Michigan.