GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The 61st District Court in Grand Rapids is starting a pilot program on Monday aimed at decreasing the number of bench warrants issued for and arrests of people who don’t show up to hearings.
Court Administrator Gary Secor explained the program to 24 Hour News 8. He said the court issues about 5,500 bench warrants each year for defendants who fail to appear.
The 61st District Court handles mostly misdemeanor cases. Secor said in many instances, there could be a valid reason for the no-show.
“Maybe you couldn’t arrange for child care that day. Maybe you didn’t have transportation. Maybe you lost your hearing notice date and you couldn’t find it,” Secor said.
Under the pilot program, instead of automatically issuing a bench warrant for failure to appear, the court will send defendants a postcard directing them to a website. There, defendants can explain why they didn’t show up for court and update contact information.
Court personnel will check out defendants’ answers and decide if they had a good reason for missing court. The court can then reschedule hearings if appropriate and the defendant could get a second chance to appear.
24 Hour News 8 asked Secor what would be considered a valid reason for missing court […]