Trenton, MI asked in Criminal Law for Michigan

Q: Currently my boyfriend has been in custody since 10/2019. I have questions in regards to speedy trial and pandemic.

He is currently awaiting trial and had been for 2 years. His original trial date was set for 4/2020 before it was canceled because of Covid. He is still awaiting and serving dead time for over 2 years now. It seems that the court system is scheduling trials for individuals that committed the offense after my boyfriend. Who really determines who goes to trial first and on what basis. It is frustrating and I would like to talk to an attorney if possible.

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

A: The frustration is understandable. I can tell you your boyfriend is not alone in his situation as many others - including parolees - have been or are still in the same position.

Just know that what most people think of as "speedy trial" is far more nuanced and complex. Just by way of a starting point, there is a big difference between people who pick up new charges while on parole and subject to a "parole hold", and those in actual MDOC custody who are writted out local counties to resolve new charges. And despite what many people believe, there is no constitutional right, statute, or court rule that says you must have an actual trial within 180 days of your arrest. That is probably now obvious as if it were otherwise, that would have been a major news issue around September and October of 2020.

As to who decides who goes to trial...depends on the court. Courts have standards set by the Supreme Court Administrators Office (SCAO), and are responsible for reporting progress to them. Generally, oldest cases go first; but then it depends on what type of crime it is, and what evidentiary issues may exist. In certain circumstances, newer serious cases may go to trial before an older less serious case, or a newer simple case may go to trial before an older serious case. That is because courts have to weigh resources: there may be only one judge, and so sometimes it makes sense for that judge to try 2-3 simple cases in any given week rather than be tied up with one serious trial for a week or two.

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