COVID-19 Pleadings and Resources for Attorneys and Advocates

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for the defender community to advocate for the release of incarcerated individuals. Keeping people unnecessarily incarcerated dangers public health and safety. SADO has created and gathered sample pleadings, information, and resources for advocates here. This page will be continually updated.


Sample Trial Court Motions  

Pretrial Incarceration Motions

Motions for Clients Serving Jail Sentences 
Motions for Clients Serving Prison Sentences
Medical Affidavits

Sample Appellate Pleadings

Emergency Motion for Modification of Release Decision. In People v Ferguson, the ACLU appealed the Oakland County Circuit Court's decision to postpone the motion for bond hearing for bond for well over a month in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The motion was successful. See COA order remanding here

Emergency Application for Leave to Appeal Motion for Bond Denial

If you are an appellate attorney and would like sample motions and pleadings to extend or preserve filing deadlines, email 

Successful Court Orders Related to COVID-19

People v Shelton, Order of the Michigan Supreme Court (December 23, 2020) 
Vacating the trial court's order denying Mr. Shelton's emergency motion to reinstate bond and remanding to the circuit court. 

People v Barber, Order of the Michigan Supreme Court (May 13, 2020)
Vacating the trial court's order denying Mr. Barber's emergency motion for bond pending appeal and remanding to the circuit court. 

People v Johnson, Grand Traverse Circuit Court (May 12, 2020)
Granting Mr. Johnson's Motion for Bond Pending Appeal 

People v Chandler, Order of the Michigan Supreme Court (May 8, 2020)
Finding the trial court abused its discretion in denying Mr. Chandler's emergency motion to modify bail and remanding to the circuit court. 

People v Olson, Marquette Circuit Court (April 8, 2020) Releasing Mr. Olson from a 360 day jail sentence in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

People v Calloway, Order of the Michigan Court of Appeals (March 31, 2020) "Administrative Order 2020-1 . . . directs courts to consider the public health factors arising out of the present public health emergency to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 . . . the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant a bond pending appeal." 

US v Kennedy, Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division (March 27, 2020). "[U]nder the facts of this case, the danger posed to Defendant in the Saginaw County Jail by the COIVD-19 pandemic constitutes an independent compelling reason to temporarily release him from custody." 

People v Ferguson, Order of the Michigan Court of Appeals (March 23, 2020). "Further, considering the public health factors arising out of the present public health emergency, the circuit court should have granted defendant a personal bond." 

US v Knight, Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division (March 24, 2020). "Because of the particular danger that the COVID-19 pandemic presents to detainees as determined by the CDC, and because of Defendant's respiratory condition that makes him particularly vulnerable to this disease, the Court finds that Defendant has set forth compelling reasons for his temporary release amidst the growing public health emergency." 

United States v Stephens, US Southern District of NY (March 19, 2020), quoting United States v Reihan, EDNY, March 12, 2020). “The more people we crowd into [a] facility, the more we’re increasing the risk to the community.” 

Thakker v Doll, US Middle District of Pennsylvania (March 21, 2020). “Public health officials now acknowledge that there is little that can be done to stop the spread of COVID-19 absent effective quarantines and social distancing procedures. But Petitioners are unable to keep socially distant while detained by inmates. We also have allegations that prison guards have shown symptoms while interacting with ICE and cannot keep the detention facilities sufficiently clean to combat the spread of the virus. Based upon the nature of the virus, the allegations of current conditions in the prisons, and Petitioners’ specific medical concerns, detailed below, we therefore find that Petitioners face a very real risk of serious, lasting illness or death. There can be no injury more irreparable.”  

Michigan Court Information


SCAO Memo to Court Administrators re Virtual Jury Trials (July 20, 2020) 

ADM Order No. 2020-9: Temporary Amendments and Extensions Related to Continuing Work in Courts (April 17, 2020) 

Supreme Court Administrative Office COVID-19 FAQs and Virtual Courtroom Operations (March 26, 2020) 

The Judicial Branch's Response to COVID-19

ADM Order No. 2020-6: Order Expanding Authority For Judicial Officers to Conduct Proceedings Remotely (April 7, 2020)

ADM Order No. 2020-4: Order Suspending Filing Deadlines in the Michigan Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (March 26, 2020)

ADM Order No. 2020-2: Order Limiting Activities/Assemblages in Court Facilities (March 18, 2020)

ADM Order No. 2020-1: In Re Emergency Procedures in Court Facilities (March 15, 2020)
The previous Local Administrative Orders Regarding COVID-19 have been superseded by ADM No. 2020-02 as of March 18, 2020. 

Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals: COVID-19 Judicial Impact

Third Circuit State of Emergency Order (March 19, 2020)

Surveys for Advocates 

Michigan Jail and Prison COVID-19 Survey. Take this survey to report concerning observations relating to incarceration and COVID-19. This information is being collected as a way to monitor what incarcerated individuals are experiencing so that we can better advocate for solutions.
*View a report of the survey results here*

Attorney-Client Access Survey. This survey assess whether attorneys are receiving remote access to in-custody clients and court proceedings for in-custody clients.

Jail and Prison Information 

Coronavirus and the Criminal Justice System - Stories of Impacted Individuals 

Q&A with MDOC Administrator Kyle Kaminski (uploaded Ap 10, 2020) 

MDOC Director's Office Memorandum on COVID-19 Policies (April 8, 2020) 

Statement of the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration (April 1, 2020) 

Governor's Executive Order 2020-29 on Jail and Prison Protocols (March 29, 2020) 

Joint Statement by Chief Justice McCormack and Sheriff Matt Sexton (March 26, 2020) 

Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) FAQs

MDOC Response to Coronavirus and Preventative Measures (March 2020)

Legislative Correction Ombudsman MDOC COVID-19 Updates: March 31, 2020March 26, 2020, March 17, 2020, April 20, 2020, May 15, 2020 
National Response to COVID-19: Prison Policy Initiative 

CDC Interim Guidance for Management of Coronavirus in Correctional Institutions 

Letter from Rich Sherwood, incarcerated at Parnall Correctional (March 2020) 

Advocacy Resources 

NLADA COVID-19 Resources 

National Association for Public Defense Nationwide COVID-19 Resources

State Bar of Michigan COVID-19 Resources and FAQs

State Bar of Michigan Law on COVID-19

Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice on COVID-19 

The Justice Collaborative has set up a website with constantly updated shared documents like bail writs, letters to corrections departments, and other defender advocacy models here.  

NACDL Coronavirus Resources

Federal Defender Coronavirus Resources 

National Juvenile Defender Center Resources

Letter to Macomb County Bar Association encouraging the filing of motions to reduce the number of individuals serving time in jail during COVID-19 (March 21, 2020)
Letter objecting to delayed sentencing for in custody clients (Chippewa County, March 19, 2020)

Local Calls For Action 

SADO Recommendations on MDOC and COVID-19 (January 2021) 

ACLU Coalition Letter to Governor and MDHHS (January 2021) 

Nation Outside Demands Action on COVID-19 in Prisons (April 2020) 

ACLU and SADO Letter to Judges Following Executive Order 2020-29 (March 31, 2020)

Safe & Just Michigan Response to Executive Order on Jails and Prisons (March 30, 2020) 

SADO and American Friends Service Committee Recommended MDOC Executive Response (March 26, 2020)

SADO recommended COVID-19 Executive Response (March 19, 2020)

Nation Outside Sign-on Letter to Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy (March 2020)

Nation Outside Sign-on! Letter to Public Officials for Release of Vulnerable Incarcerated People (March 2020)

Lawyers needed! Wayne County Release Coordination (March 2020)
Sign-on! Letter to Governor Whitmer to Release Elderly and Vulnerable People from Prison in Michigan (March 16, 2020) PDF copy

ACLU Letter to Courts on COVID-19 Prevention Management (March 17, 2020)

Fair and Just Prosecution Joint Statement from Elected Prosecutors on COVID-19 (March 17, 2020) 

Remove Youth From Confinement in Michigan, prepared by Michigan Center for Youth Justice (March 2020)

National Calls for Action and Advocacy

Letter to Officials from Texas Physicians encouraging release of incarcerated individuals (March 20, 2020) 

ACLU Emergency Petition to Reduce Incarceration in Massachusetts and Amicus from Experts in Epidemiology, Infectious Disease, Public Health, and Healthcare for Intoxicated People (March 24, 2020) 

Information for Clients and Members of the Community

Reentry in the COVID-19 Era by the ACLU (April 2020)
Winter 2020 Tax Tips (April 2020) 

Project Reentry COVID-19 Resource Guide (April 2020)

Join the COVID-19 Facebook Group for People with Incarcerated Loved Ones 

How Will The COVID-19 Emergency Affect My Legal Problem? (Michigan Legal Help)

A message for formerly incarcerated individuals and the community (March 16, 2020) 

How You Can Help  

If you are a lawyer or law student interested in helping incarcerated individuals through COVID-19-related advocacy, email Jonathan Sacks,

If you have something to contribute to this website, email Marilena David-Martin,