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Does Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order Suspend the Constitution in Michigan?

Mar 25th, 2020 Covid-19 Does Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order Suspend the Constitution in Michigan?

Effective March 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through April 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21 requires that all individuals currently living within the State of Michigan to stay at home or at their place of residence. By its terms the order is to be broadly construed, and also indicates that, subject to the same exceptions, all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited.

There are many exceptions to this order, and these include leaving the home to perform certain kinds of work deemed necessary to sustain or protect life.  These workers are defined as “critical infrastructure workers. Employers are required to designate, in writing, their critical infrastructure workers. “Willful” violations of the stay at home order is considered a misdemeanor pursuant to Michigan Compiled Laws section 10.33 and Michigan Complied Laws section 30.405(3).

As is the nature of these executive orders, much detail is left out of the text, and by necessity, this brevity leaves broad discretion to the police in determining how to both interpret as well as how to enforce this order.  For example, do the police now have the unfettered authority and ability to stop any motor vehicle to determine whether the occupant has left their home for one of the allowable exceptions?  A reasonable argument can be made that it does confer such authority.

During the investigative stop, the officer might ask the vehicle occupants to produce ID and state the purpose of their being on the road.  If the occupant claims to be a “critical infrastructure worker” then the officer might ask to “see their papers” such as a letter from their employer so designating.  If the occupant fails to answer correctly, or if their “papers” are not in order, then they could be arrested and/or charged with a violation of the Governor’s Order.  Any further criminal activity discovered during the stop would also be fair game for additional prosecution.

During these uncertain times, those traveling on the roads are urged to be ever diligent and totally prudent in their affairs and to be, on the ready, to give an answer to the police that will prevent further scrutiny and possible prosecution.  If you believe that you have been unjustifiably targeted, stopped, and charged with a crime, contact the Barone Defense Firm for your free, no-obligation, case review.  During the stay at home order, we remain available and ready to serve and assist you.  For more information about Covid-19, and how the Barone Defense Firm is responding to this situation, please see the Barone Defense Firm’s announcement on Covid-19.