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UPDATED: Eighth Judicial District Judge to Isolate until Friday out of Precaution

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020

Judge Listug’s COVID-19 test has been returned. She is negative for COVID-19. As previously planned, on Monday March 30, court business in the Eighth Judicial District will proceed as provided by Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea’s March 20, 2020 order as amended on March 23 and March 26.

A judge has been tested after symptoms and contact with all 11 Bench members

With the Minnesota Judicial Branch currently operating under a 30-day temporary order issued by Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea on Friday, March 20, which heavily restricts in-person hearings in Minnesota courthouses, all hearings currently scheduled to be in-person between Wednesday, March 25, and Friday, March 27, in the Eighth Judicial District will now be conducted by using virtual courtroom technology that allows participants to appear from remote locations. This is a precautionary measure in response to Eighth Judicial District Judge Melissa J. Listug being tested for COVID-19 on Monday, March 23, after having minor symptoms following close contact with a person who has since tested positive for COVID-19.
Litigants will be contacted by the court where they are scheduled to appear about how their hearings will be conducted. Based on the current calendar in the Eighth Judicial District, the majority of these hearings will be for people who are currently in custody.
Before she knew of her potential exposure, Judge Listug attended an Eighth Judicial District Bench meeting in person. This meeting took place on Friday, March 13, and was attended by all 11 judges in the District, Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Randall J. Slieter, and two court administrative staff.
Judge Listug has been told to expect test results within three to seven days of testing. She went into self-quarantine on Saturday, March 21, and practiced strict social distancing and isolation prior to developing symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals who have a known contact with COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days as a precautionary measure to avoid accidentally spreading the virus. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently recommended that all Minnesotans work remotely when possible.
Since her exposure, Judge Listug held hearings in the Pope County Courthouse and the Kandiyohi County Courthouse. Both counties have been asked to conduct cleaning consistent with CDC recommendations. Eighth Judicial District staff and judicial officers have been notified of Judge Listug’s possible exposure and the temporary procedures for the District.
“Judge Listug has followed Minnesota Judicial Branch policies and protocols for reporting possible COVID-19 exposure. At each stage of awareness of her exposure, she has taken the necessary measures to distance herself from others in the manner the CDC recommends. We believe the exposure to the public, staff, and litigants has been very limited, and applaud her for following the directives from public health experts,” said Eighth Judicial District Chief Judge Dwayne N. Knutsen.
Unless they exhibit symptoms, all Eighth Judicial District judges and Judge Slieter will be isolating themselves, following social distancing protocols, and continuing to follow MDH guidelines through Friday, March 27, which is 14 days after their possible exposure.