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Returni​​ng to Full Capacity​​​​

The set of tools on this page are designed to help courts plan for returning to full capacity service, while continuing to mitigate risk to protect the public and staff.  Although the tools can be considered independently, some can be considered together.

While every effort has been made by SCAO staff to compile as much helpful and accurate guidance as possible, we understand that during the months ahead courts will be responding to their individual situations with creativity and innovation.  Moreover, we know that advice from outside authorities continues to change to reflect analysis of additional data.  Anticipating occasional updates to these documents as new information becomes available, SCAO welcomes ongoing input on these documents, and in particular, sharing insights and experiences that can be added so that other courts can benefit from each other’s work.  Comments can be sent to

LAOs - Return to Full Capacity

As courts return to full capacity service, they will pass through phases as they meet certain criteria.  At each phase, the court must submit a local administrative order for approval.  The list of ​LAOs​, by county and court, reflects the phase a particular court is at, and allows you to access the court's LAO by clicking on the LAO number, e.g. 2020-04J.  
  • List of LAOs by county and court

  • Return to Full Capacity -- Continued Use of Remote Hearings​
    In this memo, State Court Administrator Tom Boyd highlights a critical point from both Administrative Order No. 2014-14 and the Return to Full Capacity: COVID-19 Guidelines -- that full capacity is premised on continued use of remote access tools (like Zoom) and that courts are expected to increase their capacity to conduct business online.
    (September 1)

Return to Full Capacity Guidebook

The Return to Full Capacity Guide​ is designed to help courts plan for returning to full capacity service, while continuing to mitigate risk to protect the public and staff.​
(updated July 17)

Model LAOs and Gating Criteria Satisfaction Form

Process for Triaging Case Actions Durin​g the COVID-19 Crisis

The following lists help courts identify cases most in need of processing, while identifying lower priority matters that can be addressed as courts return to full capacity.  The lists below prioritize cases and hearings by case type and include the associated authority.

Borrowing from standard differentiated case management practices, this outline offers suggestions for managing cases once the court has identified the group of actions requiring action within each priority.

Affixing and Use of Electronic Seals

Under current statute and standards, courts are allowed to affix their seal​ to electronic documents, including summonses, warrants, and judgments of sentence. (May 1)

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Several tools are immediately available to help parties resolve their conflict without adjudication.  Some have been available for more than two decades; a few are becoming available right now. Some processes, like mediation, have a number of different implementation methods and can be used in virtually every case.  Others, like settlement weeks, are typically used once or several times to address a clearly identified backlog of cases.

Authority for Court Closure

Authority for Court Closure​​ includes links to authority for public access to courts and authority for court closures (full or limited). (May 28)

Face Coverings

This important memo from State Court Administrator Tom Boyd highlights the need for judges and court staff to set an example by wearing face coverings in public spaces at all times when social distancing is not guaranteed.  To reinforce guidance already provided and to provide further clarification, the Return to Full Capacity Guide​ (RTFC) has been updated, including additional information regarding reverse gating criteria if public health conditions are deteriorating. (July 17)

Mail Opening Services

Safe Environment

Self-Represented Litigants

  • Guidance on Conducting Remote Hearings with Self-Represented Litigants​​

    This resource is intended to assist courts with self-represented litigants' participation in remote court hearings.  It includes ways that SRLs can resolve their case remotely and three steps courts can take to facilitate remote court hearings for SRLs.
    (Updated June 12 to reflect that Washtenaw and Livingston Counties are now available to mediate by teleconference or Zoom)​

  • Remote Court Participation Chart​ (Updated May 11)​
    This chart is intended to assist courts with deciding when to hold remote hearings via telephone and videoconferencing.  While it includes statutory and court rule authority for remote hearings, AO No. 2020-6 authorizes remote court hearings consistent with the provisions in the order, until further ordered by the Michigan Supreme Court.​
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