News Archive

Thursday, May 21, 2020

If you need help with a pressing legal issue related to COVID-19, the State Bar of Michigan’s new resource may be able to help you. The COVID-19 Rapid Response Helpline can refer you to an attorney quickly and give you a free 25 minute consultation. This helpline is available for the following legal issues: Estate/Disability Planning, Guardianship, Custody and Parenting Time Issues, Garnishment Defense and Other Consumer Matters, Labor and Employment, and Unemployment. 

The Rapid Response Helpline is open from 8:30 am to 4:45 pm, Monday through Friday, and all referrals received before 3 pm will receive a response within 4 hours. There are no income requirements to use this service. The hotline is available to anyone who needs legal assistance quickly during the COVID-19 emergency. 

Visit the COVID-19 Rapid Response Helpline to submit a request for a referral or call the helpline at (800) 968-0738.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Michigan Justice for All Task Force wants to know more about how people use the civil justice system, which includes the courts, lawyers, legal aid programs, and others.  Civil legal problems involve money, housing, property, family issues, personal injury, or other non-criminal problems.  We want to hear from you! We're collecting information in this survey so we can create a plan to provide access to our civil justice system for all Michiganders. You will have an opportunity to enter into a random drawing for one of ten $25 VISA gift cards after you complete the survey.

We would like to hear from you about your experiences with the Michigan civil justice system.  This survey should take only 10 - 15 minutes to complete, and your responses are confidential.  We will not share your answers or information with anyone outside the Justice for All Task Force. These issues are more critical now than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way courts operate.

Thank you for sharing your experiences!  You're helping us improve the justice system for you and many others.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The following press release was issued today: "Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-19, which allows tenants and mobile home owners to remain in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic even if they are unable to stay current on their rent. The order also relieves courts from certain statutory restrictions to enable them to stay eviction-related proceedings until after the COVID-19 emergency has passed. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in effect until April 17 at 11:59 p.m.

“Families across the state are facing a number of uncertainties, from concerns about their health and well-being and that of their loved ones to when their next paycheck will arrive. Worrying about whether they’ll be evicted from their home, apartment or mobile home should not be on this list,” Governor Whitmer said. “This executive order will ease a burden on families struggling to make ends meet and allow them to focus on what’s most important — staying safe and healthy.”

“We continue to urge all Michigan families to remain focused on putting their health first and making smart decisions to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “This order, in addition to Wednesday’s order extending the tax foreclosure deadline, will give renters and homeowners some peace of mind.”

More information will be available on Michigan Legal Help soon.

Friday, March 20, 2020

COVID-19, or coronavirus, is impacting people in Michigan in ways that are changing quickly. You might be wondering how COVID-19 will affect your court case. Court staff and lawyers are still working, but they are limiting public access to their courts and offices.

Michigan Courts

On March 18th, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an emergency order telling courts that they should remain open for emergency cases and essential functions. The Order also tells courts to use videoconferencing or other remote conferencing tools (like telephones) for hearings rather than having people appear in person. You cannot be charged a fee for appearing by telephone or video. The order tells courts to practice social distancing and limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to no more than 10 people, including staff. This order is in effect until April 3, 2020. Essential functions include things like:

  • Certain hearings in criminal cases, PPO violations, or juvenile delinquency cases where the defendant is in jail or prison;
  • Infectious Disease proceedings;
  • Requests to get or extend Personal Protection Orders;
  • Emergency family law matters to address the safety or well-being of a child or party;
  • Some CPS and child support hearings; 
  • Involuntary commitment hearings; 
  • Emergency guardianship, conservatorship, Adult Protective Services, and temporary restraining order hearings in Probate Court; and
  • Other general civil, business, family, district court (including landlord/tenant, debt collection, and traffic), and probate court matters but only if they can be handled remotely by two-way video technology.

The order also tells the clerk to accept filings by mail, e-filing, e-mail, or fax if in-person filing is limited. Also, if parties reach an agreement and the court can accept the agreement without holding a hearing, those agreements can be filed and entered with the court for no extra fee. The Court also issued an Order on March 15th with other instructions to the courts. To learn more about different ways in which COVID-19 might affect your legal issue, go to the COVID-19 resource page on Michigan Legal Help.

 If you have a scheduled hearing and you think it might be considered essential, contact the court to find out what to do.  Go to the Supreme Court's website or Courts & Agencies on Michigan Legal Help to find the court you are supposed to visit and click on the link to learn more. 

If you need to contact your lawyer, call instead of visiting in person. If you have a new case and need a lawyer, call or use online intake instead of going to the office in person. Most legal aid offices are closed to the public, but staff there are still working to help their clients.  Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a lawyer or legal aid office near you. If you could be eligible for free legal services, the Guide will give you a phone number and, if available, the link to do an online intake.

Michigan Legal Help will continue to be an online resource for legal information related to COVID-19. We will be sharing statewide updates as often as we can at michiganlegalhelp.org/coronavirus

For information about how the State of Michigan is responding to COVID-19, visit the State of Michigan’s COVID-19 page. Another source for reliable information about COVID-19 is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 information page.

Other Closures 

Immigration Court

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) postponed all non-detained cases in Immigration Courts nationwide through April 10th. For more information about how Immigration Courts are responding to COVID-19, visit the EOIR COVID-19 page.

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services

All U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) will not provide in-person services until at least April 1. This includes interviews, naturalization ceremonies and biometric collection appointments. USCIS will continue to provide emergency services during this time. If you have an emergency service request, please contact the USCIS Contact Center.

For information about how USCIS is responding to COVID-19, visit the USCIS COVID-19 page.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Service

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service (MDHHS) offices are closed to the public, except for appointments. MDHHS offices will still be in operation.

You can apply for benefits online at MIBridges. If you are unable to apply online, you can apply by calling your local MDHHS office. If you are unable to upload your documents online, submit your verifications via regular mail. Families who receive or apply for cash assistance under the Family Independence Program (FIP) will not be required to attend orientations at Michigan Works! offices or to engage in subsequent employment activities.

Unemployment Insurance Agency

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) offices are closed to the public, except for appointments. UIA offices will still be in operation.

Eligible employees are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits online at www.michigan.gov/UIA or by calling 1-866-500-0017.

Updated 3/20/20

Friday, March 20, 2020

Michigan Legal Help has created a new section of our website with information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the way it is affecting different legal issues. Click this link to view the How will the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Emergency Affect My Legal Problem? page on Michigan Legal Help.

You will also see a link to this page on other areas of the website. We are continuing to work as things change, so check back soon for updates if you don't find what you need.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

FACT: Did you know that in three out of four civil cases, at least one party represents themselves in court because they can’t afford an attorney?

FACT: Did you know that a right to a lawyer only applies in criminal cases, not civil cases? However, people who have done nothing wrong often lose their cases in court because they don’t have the legal information or help they need. For example, of more than 30,000 eviction cases in Detroit annually, about 4 percent of tenants had legal representation. This is just one example of the CIVIL JUSTICE GAP.

SOLUTION: To tackle the civil justice gap, the Michigan Supreme Court formed the Justice for All Task Force. The Task Force is inventorying available resources, identifying gaps, and developing a plan to achieve 100 % ACCESS.

Public input is needed to help assess the extent of the problem and the impact of the civil justice gap on Michigan families and businesses. Two public town hall meetings have been scheduled to give the public an opportunity to be heard.

Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack and Justice Brian Zahra (the court’s representative on the Task Force) will open the meetings with short statements and moderate public testimony. Local officials and representatives of community service organizations will also be invited to share their views. Those who want to speak will be invited to fill out a speaker’s card and a time limit will be set based on the number of speakers.

Meeting # 1  GRAND RAPIDS
 Friday, February 14, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
 Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation
1530 Madison Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49507

Meeting #2  DETROIT
Monday, February 24, 2020
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Hall
1358 Abbott Street
Detroit, Michigan 48226

Future meetings will be scheduled as needed to complete the Task Force’s work.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit the Task Force webpage, www.courts.mi.gov/jfa


Friday, December 13, 2019

Michigan Legal Help recently published the I Need an Advance Directive or Health Care Power of Attorney toolkit. This toolkit has information about advance directives and why you might want to make one. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Read the new article E-Filing Updates to find out which Michigan courts are using e-filing and to access resources with more information about the e-filing process.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

¡El paquete de herramientas "Maneras de comprar una vivienda sin una hipoteca: conozca los riesgos" ahora está disponible en español! Este paquete de herramientas le cuenta sobre tres maneras comunes de comprar una vivienda en Michigan sin una hipoteca, y los riesgos asociados con estas compras.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Michigan Legal Help recently published the "I Need Medicaid (MA)" toolkit. This toolkit has information about who is eligible for Medicaid, how to apply, and what you can do if your coverage has been reduced.