MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — COVID-19 restrictions at the Muskegon County Hall of Justice have ended and various county departments can once again hold meetings, hearings and serve the needs of county residents in-person.
The county's primary complex for administrative offices had been under various COVID-19 restricts since March of 2020. The state of emergency in Muskegon County ended Tuesday, June 29.
With restrictions lifted, the Muskegon County's 14th Circuit Court has resumed holding in-person jury trials. Two trials were completed last week and one will take place this week.
"Both were surprisingly normal," said Muskegon County 14th Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy G. Hicks. "Both groups of jurors were great folks that came right in, nobody made any excuses and they did their job. It was sort of exhilarating actually."
Circuit Court has a backlog of criminal cases that will keep the court busy into the fall scheduling and holding trials.
"Jury trials will be in-person while a lot of our other court proceedings, especially civil cases, we hope to continue to do via Zoom," said Muskegon County 14th Circuit Court Administrator Sandra Vanderhyde. "We have honestly discovered a new norm. Moving forward the State Court Administrative Office has said that we have to do the maximum amount of court proceedings virtually."
"In the criminal world we are bumping into constitutional issues that pretty much require some type of personal appearance," added Hicks.
Zoom will continue to be a big part of the court's new normal. Jury trials in Muskegon County District Court have also resumed.
On the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice, in-person meetings have resumed for the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners. The lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions at the courthouse means county residents can attend and participate in the meetings in-person.
The Muskegon County Clerk's Office never closed during the pandemic and remains open Monday to Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Service at the clerk's office no longer requires an appointment.
"No appointments necessary, they can walk in at their convenience on their day and we are even open during the lunch hour," said Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters. Friday hours at the office will resume after Labor Day.
The Muskegon County Sheriff's Office is tentatively planning to resume in-person jail visits in August.
Visitors to the Hall of Justice can continue wearing masks but those are no longer required to enter the building. At the front entrance visitors are asked to complete a two question health screening.
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