Minnesota State Courts Remain Open with Certain Precautions
Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020
The Minnesota Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, held an emergency meeting today to discuss Emergency Executive Order 20-01
; Declaring a Peacetime Emergency and Coordinating Minnesota's Strategy to Protect Minnesotans from COVID-19. Following that meeting, Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued a statewide order
, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, for all Minnesota courts.
The order establishes temporary procedures for district court case processing:
- All court facilities shall remain open. Service windows at court facilities will also remain open, and courts will continue to accept filings in all case types. The Judicial Branch discourages the public from making any non-essential visits to court facilities.
- All jury trials currently underway should continue until the trial is complete, regardless of case type.
- For case types designated “High Priority” or “Super High Priority” in the Limited Court Service Case Priorities List, all court proceedings should continue as normal. Courts will schedule new jury trials as needed in those case types. Wherever possible, courts should explore the use of ITV/remote technology to conduct these hearings. The order also eases restrictions on the use of these technologies currently in Court Rules.
- For case types designated “Medium Priority” or “Low Priority” in the Limited Court Service Case Priorities List, all court proceedings (except jury trials currently underway, or cases where a speedy trial has been demanded) will be suspended for 14 days. No new jury trials in these case types should be scheduled for the next 30 days.
Each individual district court has begun communicating these changes to parties, attorneys, jurors, and justice partners. Going forward, court administration is authorized to implement workplace modifications to promote social distancing between employees, and between employees and the public.
The Court of Appeals and Supreme Court will follow Minnesota Department of Health recommendations regarding social distancing, but continue to operate, accept filings, and hear oral arguments as usual.
“The courts are one of the first promises made in the Minnesota Constitution. The prudent and temporary measures we are implementing balance public safety, the safety of people visiting courthouses, and the safety of our workforce. The Minnesota Judicial Branch is committed to ensuring that this delicate balance is upheld as the state copes with COVID-19,”
said Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea.