On April 17, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 2020-9 which automatically extends the life of any personal protection orders (PPOs) that would expire during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back on March 10, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency based on her authority under Art. 5, Sec. 1 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act (MCL 30.401 through 30.421) and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (MCL 10.31 through 10.33). This was followed by several additional orders that closed non-essential businesses, compelled residents to stay in their homes, mandated social distancing and directed employees to work remotely if possible. The court system has also been affected and many offices are operating on a bare-bones skeleton crew. This limited access has made it nearly impossible for individuals to access essential legal services, including filing a petition to extend a PPO that might expire during the state of emergency period.
In response, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered that “any personal protection order that expires during the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is extended for 90 days beyond the end of the state of emergency period.” Adm. Ord. No. 2020-9. Generally, PPOs are generally ordered by the judge to remain in place from 182 days after issuance up to one year. However, a personal protection order can last much longer if affected by this administrative order. For example, a judge on March 30, 2019 issued a PPO that is set to last one year and expires on March 30, 2020. The state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic went into effect on March 10, 2020. If the state of emergency is lifted hypothetically on May 31, 2020, then the PPO would not expire until 90 days after that date on August 29, 2020. This means that a personal protection order that was originally ordered by the circuit court judge to last 12 months will now be in effect for 17 months!
Does this violate the respondent’s due process rights? The administrative order further provides:
“A respondent who object to the extension may file a motion to modify or terminate the personal protection order and request a hearing under MCR 3.707. For a hearing under this order, the court shall schedule the hearing and notify the parties at least 7 days before the date of the hearing by the means most likely to provide actual notice. The extension set forth in this order does not limit in any way a judge’s authority and ability to hold a hearing on respondent’s motion and determine whether the extension should continue or the personal protection order should be modified or terminated.”
MCR 3.707(A)(1)(b) provides that “[t]he respondent may file a motion to modify or terminate an ex parte personal protection order or an ex parte order extending a personal protection order and request a hearing within 14 days after being served with, or receiving actual notice of, the order.” For any motions filed more than 14 days after service of the original PPO, “the respondent requires a showing of good cause” why he or she delayed to modify or terminate sooner. Does the extension under this administrative order qualify as good cause? That may very well depend on the particular judge that issued the PPO in the first place. The Michigan Supreme Court provided no additional guidance on the standards that courts should apply on decisions to terminate PPOs related to the extension under the state of emergency.
The extension under Administrative Order No. 2020-9 does not preclude the petitioner from filing a motion seeking a further extension of the PPO. This “motion must be filed with the court that issued the personal protection order no later than 3 days before the order is to expire.” This means that, for a PPO with an original expiration date of March 30, 2020 that is extended under the administrative order to August 29, 2020, the petitioner must file a motion to extend by August 26, 2020. If the petitioner does not do so timely, then the PPO will simply lapse and expire. However, nothing prevents the petitioner from applying for a new personal protection order if justified under the law.
If you are a respondent encumbered by an existing PPO, then your rights may be affected by the recent COVID-19 administrative measures. A skilled lawyer can advise you of your options and help you take action. When you need aggressive legal representation, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.