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News Item
New Guide & File interview available to assist self-represented litigants seeking a protective order

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has launched a new Guide & File interview related to forms used to request a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) and Order for Protection (OFP). Guide & File users are presented with the “Ask for a MN Restraining Order” interview that will serve as a decision tree to help determine if they should request an OFP or a HRO. Based on the users’ answers, Guide & File automatically directs users to the correct form. The goal is to reduce the number of incorrect filings and eliminate confusion regarding which type of restraining order a user should request.

“Public safety can be jeopardized if a litigant files for a protective order that does not match their circumstances,” said State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba. “The Guide & File interview will route users who are in need of a protective order to the proper form based on the information they provide about their situation. Guide & File for restraining orders will reduce confusion for litigants and allow the court process to move efficiently to respond to a petition.”

The Judicial Branch launched the Minnesota Guide & File system, a web-based electronic tool that helps self-represented litigants create court forms for certain case types, in June 2018, as well as a new Guide & File Help Topic. Unlike traditional court forms where users fill in fields with their information, Guide & File uses an “interview” tool that asks simple questions and uses the answers to produce forms that can be printed or filed electronically with the court.

The initial launch of Guide & File featured three interviews used to create multiple forms: to start a conciliation court case; to start an eviction case; and to file an affidavit of service in a conciliation court or eviction case. To date, Guide & File has been used to create more than 8,000 documents and to eFile cases in 60 different courts across all 10 judicial districts.