After the defendant is arraigned on the charge of Zero Tolerance, a Pre-Trial Hearing is conducted in one of the local district courts, at which point the defense attorney and prosecutor will confer about the case and decide whether to enter a plea agreement or go to trial. The Pre-Trial Hearing usually occurs about 30 days after the Arraignment. Judges that typically handle Operating While Intoxicated charges are Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines, Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo, Judge Joseph F. Burke, and Magistrate M. Colleen Currie. They sit in the 14th, 14B, and 15th District Courts, all located in Washtenaw County. These Judges are all very experienced and expect the parties to be prepared at every stage of the judicial process. If the parties involved in the case want more time to review the evidence and continue plea negotiations, an adjourned Pre-Trial Hearing can be scheduled about 3-4 weeks in the future.
If the defendant chooses to go to trial in Washtenaw County, he or she can choose whether to have a jury trial or a non-jury trial, subject to the prosecution’s approval. Most defendants in a case of Zero Tolerance will be given about 3 months to prepare for trial. The trial preparation time involves many hours of record review, witness interviews, expert analysis, and witness preparation. This period of time must be used effectively and efficiently because the Judge will expect the parties to proceed with trial on its scheduled date. The seasoned defense attorney will review every possible issue and every fact in the case to prepare the best possible defense at trial. The basis for an acquittal is usually set during this all important trial preparation phase.