Marquette County court balances limited case load with social distancing requirements

Local News

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) — While balancing challenges with the limited court proceedings, the Marquette County Courthouse remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The whole approach realistically is a balancing of we still want to keep moving the justice system along, and we’re doing that, but we are doing that to that extent we can do it safely,” said Judge Jennifer Mazzuchi, Michigan 25th Circuit Court, Marquette County.

The Honorable Jennifer Mazzuchi has been working away at the Marquette County Courthouse.

The Michigan Supreme Court has provided Mazzuchi and state judges administrative orders for appropriate direction for court proceedings.

“We have been doing a steady docket of hearings of all varieties when they can be accomplished with the parties appearing remotely of if neccessary cases, with just a limited number of people in the court. The Supreme Court has also cancelled all jury proceedings through June 22nd and then we are waiting further direction from them.”

Cases that involve criminal defendants who are incarcerated, children, or if an emergency are some of the cases being currently seen.

With proceedings being juggled around, priority and accessibility is key.

“With doing some remote proceedings we’re kind of balancing the need to get access to the courts system, ” said Judge Mazzuchi.

“But also to make sure that the participants are adequately represented and understanding, so remote processes including Zoom can be used for some types of cases, but not all cases are well suited for that.”

Judge Mazzuchi expects virtual court proceedings to continue past the pandemic, but will ultimately depend on a case by case basis.

“We make decisions on individual cases all the time of course, but then we get a lot of administrative direction like that from the Supreme Court and so we are awaiting some further guidance from them for things like juries, which are obviously involves groups of people that we have to make sure we are doing things in a safe manner.”

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