Michigan's 'virtual' courtrooms surpass 500,000 hours of online hearings via Zoom

The Michigan Supreme Court announced July 15 that courts across the state have logged more than 500,000 hours of online hearings since proceedings were moved online in late March.

In order to keep the doors to Michigan’s justice system open, judges and other court officers have quickly moved to hold remote proceedings using Zoom in order to prevent spread of COVID-19. Through a series of administrative orders, the court has authorized additional use of remote proceedings while safeguarding the rights of participants.

“Other states are copying Michigan’s example of tapping innovation and creativity to keep the doors of our justice system open,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack.

“Achieving 500,000 hours of hearings is just the beginning because our response to the pandemic has created the opportunity to take a giant step forward toward our goals of accessible courts that are efficient and engaged with the local community.”

To maintain public access to virtual court proceedings and limit any potential for disruption, trial courts are livestreaming Zoom proceedings to YouTube.

The Virtual Courtroom Directory allows the public to find and view court proceedings statewide using an interactive map that allows users to pick a county or judge and view proceedings. Courts are required to either livestream proceedings to YouTube live or to post a video of those proceedings immediately after the event.