COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to our daily life. But, in the midst of this global pandemic, there have been some positive changes—particularly with the state of affairs of the legal system in Michigan. Courthouses across Michigan and across the country have always been open to the public. Ensuring that the public has access to court proceedings is enshrined in both the United States and Michigan constitutions. Indeed, transparency and accountability in our judicial system is necessary to a free democracy.
While “court” television shows have dominated the mid and late afternoon for years, the Michigan Supreme Court has pioneered public access to Michigan judicial proceedings as part of the judiciary’s response to COVID-19. Since most courts still have serious restrictions on occupancy and because many judicial proceedings are being conducted remotely through use of videoconference technology, these judicial proceedings still must be made available to the public. To that end, courts across the State of Michigan are livestreaming their proceedings, so you can watch live judicial proceedings from courts all across Michigan.
The MiCourt Virtual Courtroom Directory lets you hop in and observe a live judicial proceeding right from your computer, phone, or tablet. This tool is easy to use and lets you observe live court proceedings in your local community and across the State of Michigan. While it may not be as exciting as some of the dramatized television programs that you can watch on broadcast television, watching live court proceedings is a way for the public to be engaged in what is going on in their community. Moreover, as Michigan judges are elected, the MiCourt Virtual Courtroom Directory gives you an opportunity to see your elected officials at work.
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack has been a leader in ensuring the use of technology to make Michigan’s court system more accessible for everyone. She recently testified before Congress about Michigan’s use of technology to ensure access to justice during the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted previously, while COVID-19 has brought many challenges, it has also brought an amazing opportunity to force change to the legal system that can improve access to justice for all.
An associate attorney with Grewal Law PLLC in Okemos, Michigan, John Fraser focuses on general litigation, criminal defense, cannabis law, and appellate law. John is also an adjunct professor of law at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School where he teaches a course on Medical Marijuana and the Law.