Arctic freeze backlogs hundreds of West Michigan court cases

The Michigan Avenue Courthouse in the midst of the arctic freeze. Many court cases across the state were backlogged due to the weather. (WWMT/Heidi Paxson)

Hundreds of cases were recently backlogged due to the arctic freeze. As a result, Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Getting said the Kalamazoo County Courthouse has been extremely busy.

Getting says the courthouse was closed the afternoon of Jan. 28-31. He explained all sentencings, hearings, pretrial conferences, trials and arraignments were adjourned due to the closure.

“The extreme weather we were experiencing here in Kalamazoo was putting lives at risk,” said Getting. “It would have been dangerous for us to expect people to be coming to court. And I don’t want to expose the defendants, the victims, the witnesses and potential jurors to that kind of risk.”

Despite the closure, Getting said he and some of his team still worked during the arctic freeze to reschedule canceled cases. They said they have been busy contacting witnesses, victims, attorneys, defendants and jurors to make those rearrangements. Getting said in early February the courtroom was expected to remain busy for weeks.

“The reality, when you look at the court dockets and district court and circuit court, is we’re not talking about five or 10 cases. We’re talking about hundreds,” said Getting.

He said he doesn’t recall a time when the courthouse closed for weather, let alone for several consecutive days.

“There’s going to be some long days. We already know that, the judges know it, defense counsel knows it, my attorneys know it,” said Getting.

Anyone who needs to go to court in February is advised to plan their schedule accordingly. It could be a very long wait at the courthouse.

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