DETROIT - The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter to the Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack today urging the court not to authorize remote jury trials for criminal cases statewide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACLU of Michigan Legal Director Dan Korobkin writes in part, "The pandemic currently sweeping our planet presents challenges to countless facets of our daily lives. Solving these challenges requires flexibility, technology, and creativity. Approaches are available to deal with the problems presented by convening trials in the era of COVID, but neither sacrificing the constitutional rights of criminal defendants, nor hiding behind a fig leaf of consent, are acceptable solutions. Instead, courts and prosecutors must exercise discretion and prioritize urgent cases, hold in-person trials in large spaces where social distancing is possible, and expand pretrial release or dismiss charges without prejudice when in-person facilities are unavailable. We urge you not to move forward with remote jury trials in criminal cases in our state."