Decision fatigue is an overlooked topic that has played a vital role in the Michigan Criminal Justice system for many decades. In the advent of Covid-19 (https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/), the concept has taken on a life of its own. While many people argue for a speedy trial, the theory of decision fatigue can play a role in advocating for the criminal defendant.
Suppose we look up decision fatigue in Webster’s Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/). In that case, it is defined as the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a lengthy decision-making session. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. To discuss this matter in greater detail, we spoke to some of the top lawyers in Michigan and one of the best personal trainers to gain their insight.
Matthew McManus is the Managing Partner for McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (https://www.mcmanusamadeo.com/matthew-c-mcmanus.html). When asked about decision fatigue, McManus said, “Many lawyers are pushing the 180-day speedy trial issue. While I understand that concept, there are benefits for a case to drag on. The defendant that is on bond can reap benefits procedurally from a case not moving fast.”
Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo (https://www.mcmanusamadeo.com/jennifer-kelley.html). She is known as one of the top divorce lawyers in the State of Michigan. Kelley added insight on the topic when she said, “In divorce law, many times a valid compromise can be established with time. People can change their position in a subconscious matter. Covid has certainly slowed things down and elevated the concept of decision fatigue.”
Ashlee Duplessis is the founder of “Duplessis Law” and a rising star in criminal defense (https://detroitlegaldefense.com/). When asked about decision fatigue, Duplessis commented, “In Oakland and Wayne County, the way you approach a criminal case varies. One commonality is both dockets are growing daily. Decision fatigue coupled with Covid 19 will make compromise easier in some cases. More importantly, it will dictate how we do Voir Dire when we get back into jury trials regularly.”
Megan Mast is one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Kent County, Michigan, and an Associate Attorney for Tanis Schultz (https://www.tanisschultz.com/about-us/megan-a-mast/). Mast provided her thoughts when she stated, “In Kent and Montcalm County, our jury pools are different than many other jurisdictions. We see a lot of people that care about our justice system and that want to be jurors. Still, there is a large reluctance due to decision fatigue and Covid. Judicial economy is being compromised, and as members of the defense bar, we will need to work harder than ever to advocate for our clients outside of the courtroom.”
William Amadeo is a Partner at McManus and Amadeo and is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers across Michigan (https://www.mcmanusamadeo.com/william-amadeo.html). Amadeo added, “The longer a case goes, the better for the criminal defendant. The issue we have that Meg (Mast) touched upon is the psychology of criminal law. Imagine fighting for your freedom, and the case drags on for three years. Sometimes it is in the best interest of the client due to facts changing. Other times, good time credit can lead to downward departures on plea deals. This is a period where the word “counselor” overrides the word attorney.”
Adam Son is known as one of the top fitness trainers in Michigan and spoke of how the concept is affecting many in the legal field (https://www.3n1fit.com/). Son was quoted as saying, “At 3N1 Fitness and “Achieve Fit” I work with a lot of lawyers and people that have children dealing with the court system. The longer the process goes, the more desire these individuals have for closure. Many lawyers and I have discussed the theory of decision fatigue as the concept is known more in weight training than in the justice system. Covid-19 certainly has brought worlds together, and we are all learning a new normal.”
While we are not sure where the future lays, the 180-day rule for a speedy trial will also play a role in both the United States and the Michigan Constitution. However, there are many reasons why waiving this right may benefit parties in the court system. We are not in a one size fits all situation. While we may have never been, Covid 19 has brought psychology and our judiciary into the same arena.