Michigan county prosecutor dismissing all charges related to violating Whitmer's COVID-19 orders

The Wayne County, Michigan, prosecutor declared on Monday that she will dismiss all charges related to  the violation of Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen Whitmer44 military personnel going to Michigan to assist with COVID-19 spike Michigan hospital chiefs plead with public to do its part amid surging hospitalizations Biden must protect Great Lakes from oil spill threat MORE’s (D) COVID-19 executive orders after a state Supreme Court ruling.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office released a statement announcing that the almost 1,700 cases in the county involving violations of Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions, most of which were in Detroit, would be dismissed.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office (WCPO) cited a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that determined Whitmer did not have the authority to extend a state of emergency past April 30, 2020, meaning she could not issue or renew any coronavirus emergency orders beyond that date. 

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The prosecutor’s office said it and law enforcement agencies had issued violations and misdemeanors associated with breaches of the governor’s orders before the ruling, following the applicable law at the time.

The violations included disobeying orders on gatherings, business closures and Whitmer's other emergency orders.

After reviewing the cases, “it was determined that there is not a legal basis to proceed with them,” the office’s statement said. “WCPO will be dismissing all adjudicated cases and all pending cases.”

"Governor Whitmer's leadership has prevented many of our citizens from contracting COVID-19," Worthy said in a statement. "However, considering the Supreme Court's decision, WCPO will no longer use criminal prosecution to enforce the Governor's Executive Order. It is my earnest hope that people will continue to wear face masks, social distance, and quarantine when warranted."

The Michigan Supreme Court gave its ruling denying Whitmer the authority to extend the state of emergency in October. The governor’s office had requested that the court postpone its enactment of its decision so there could be “an orderly transition,” which the court rejected days later. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Wayne County has confirmed more than 61,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 2,000 deaths, according to state data.