Benton Harbor, MI asked in Gov & Administrative Law and Public Benefits for Michigan

Q: I was supposed to be in a court hearing today for an upcoming trial. Is it ok everything was changed 12 hours prior?

I was sent a text from my public defender that my court hearing would no longer be in person, but on zoom, the time was changed to 2 hours later, and that my public defender would have another person subbing for them. They also said they would text me the zoom link prior to the newly set time. This was the first contact I've had over the last 6 months after repeatedly trying to contact my public defender on my case. I was a little frustrated from this information, but understanding. After not receiving the said zoom link , I proceeded to call the courthouse. The supplied the link. I sat in waiting room for 3 hours waiting to be let in after contacting my subbed out lawyer about what to do and being told to wait. I finally called courthouse again and after getting to the prosecutors office I was told the hearing was already over and that I was present. I was not present during this whole hearing and was not in the same room and no of nothing that happened but was told I was there.

1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Without knowing your case or details at all, I would assume today's hearing was a pretrial conference or status conference. Often, clients aren't really involved in those hearings unless you are ready to enter a plea. And rarely would anything significant about your case be discussed. These sort of hearings generally do not involve presenting or discussing evidence.

Not saying you shouldn't feel frustrated by the process, but you can be reasonably well assured that you didn't miss anything. Likely, the substitute attorney may have discussed a potential plea offer with the prosecutor, but otherwise set the case for trial - which in most counties now with COVID, who knows when that will be. The saving grace is that you are preemptively not in custody awaiting trial.

You should get in touch with your lawyer to see what offer is being presented. In many cases, if you are interested in accepting the offer, the attorney can arrange for you to enter the plea - likely be zoom video. Of course, you have a right to a trial so you don't have to plea. That's substantively what these sort of hearings are for: to determine whether you will plea.

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