Lawyers take steps to handle coronavirus challenges

Court closures and other drastic measures have been taken to combat the spread of Coronavirus; and law firms and bar associations are coping with this new challenge.

The Veterans Memorial Courthouse, 313 W. Kalamazoo St., will remain open. The historical Courthouse in Mason will be closed to the public. Judge Wanda Stokes will hold matters that would normally be held in Mason at the Veterans Memorial Courthouse instead.

The Court will maximize the use of technology to enable parties to participate remotely.

All hearings with vulnerable persons may be adjourned on request.

The court will take steps to reduce the volume of people required to attend court at any given time.

All jury trials will be suspended until April 6. Thereafter, the Court may continue to conduct limited jury trials, calling fewer jurors and staggering reporting schedules.  Anyone with flu-like symptoms, asked to quarantine, or is vulnerable, may get a deferral from jury duty.

Criminal cases with persons in custody shall be given priority.

Truancy Court and the First Step program are adjourned until May. The Family Center will be closed so long as the schools are closed. Family Recovery Court, Phoenix Court, and Mental Health Court Review hearings are adjourned until after April 6.

Check for updates.

Foster Swift attorney Chuck Barbieri, president of the Ingham County Bar Association, said the ICBA will not hold any in-person events such as section meetings through the end of the month.  “Remote events remain a possibility,” he said.  “List serve notices will continue, and I expect our newsletter Briefs to be published this month.  Our executive committee will be conferring soon on taking other steps for future scheduling.”

Butzel Long, whose offices include those in Ann Arbor and Lansing, has launched an online Coronavirus Resource Center to address the legal, regulatory, and commercial implications of COVID-19.

“Our priority is to ensure our clients are well-informed on the legalities and implications of the coronavirus and how it will affect their businesses,” says Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Crocetto. “We will add information and provide regular updates.”

Varnum—another firm whose many offices include Ann Arbor and Lansing, launched a COVID-19 Task Force to mitigate the potential negative impact the virus may have on clients’ business and operations, led by Varnum Executive Partner Scott Hill. In addition to such concerns as contractual agreements and the supply chain, labor and employment relations, policies to govern self-quarantine, and how to handle business immigration issues may arise. The task force may also draw on broad expertise to advise on timing for mergers and acquisitions.

“With global trade, we’re all so connected and tied together. We’re helping clients figure out how to find alternate sources of supply,” Hill says.


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