Evictions loom in Detroit as in-person hearings resume Monday; attorneys will be in court to help

Detroit's 36th District Court will resume in-person hearings for eviction cases on Monday, June 5.

The amended policy means that any tenant involved in an eviction case must appear in court, or it could result in a default judgment and risk being evicted. 

The rule change ends the virtual hearings option that tenants could use to appear in court, enabling them to attend hearings remotely from work or home. The city of Detroit says its working to create as seamless a transition for both the courts and those with scheduled hearings. 

The change is meant to address an influx of filings. 

"As we all work together to provide access to legal representation for tenants in Detroit, we want to stress to residents that they need to make every attempt to appear at court," said April Faith-Slaker, executive director of the City of Detroit’s Office of Eviction Defense.

"If residents fail to appear, a default judgment could be made which will lead to an eviction order. This adjustment requires us to be patient with the process. Residents should do their due diligence to stay up to date on their court details. Once you appear in-person, our Right to Counsel attorneys are ready and waiting to help."

Some officials are concerned the ending of the policy could make it harder on tenants to appear for court. Many defendants work or have kids which makes appearing before a judge more difficult. 

The virtual option removed the barrier for some to appear in court. 

Free legal service remains available through the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance program for those who had already submitted an application. For those who haven't secured legal representation, attorneys will be in the courtrooms and in hallways to help, the city said. 

Look up the timing of your hearing here

Visitors should keep in mind the following expectations in preparation for their in-person hearings:

  • The courthouse opens at 8:00 a.m.
  • Arrive early to pass through security and find your assigned courtroom
  • Cell phones are allowed in the courtroom, but many items are prohibited, such as cords/chargers, food, beverages, and weapons.
  • NOTE: If a tenant does not appear, a default judgment and ultimately an eviction order could be issued in their absence, so we strongly recommend showing up to court