COVID-19 is hampering criminal defense in Kalamazoo County

Restrictions on in-person hearings and face-to-face meetings is making it harder for Kalamazoo County's indigent defense attorneys.

Those who can’t afford a lawyer in Kalamazoo County turn to Kalamazoo Defender, a nonprofit agency dedicated to indigent defense. But the agency says restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 are also harming the rights of their clients.

“What’s looming ahead is speedy trial violations because charges against state prisoners must be brought to trial within 180 days of that issuance,” said Donna Innes, the chief attorney for Kalamazoo Defender, in a report by WMUK.

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She says some courts in Michigan may not resume trials until next year, though she thinks Kalamazoo County may restart sooner.

“The concern is that the courts will allow a break down in what defendants’ rights are in terms of we have a right to confront the witnesses against us in open court,” she said.

You can read and listen to the full story here.