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New Court Rules targeting non-public information in court filings effective January 1, 2021

Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

New Court Rules targeting non-public information in court filings effective January 1, 2021

A series of important amendments to the Minnesota Rules of Court will take effect on January 1, 2021. Among other provisions, the amendments expand rejection of documents by district court staff when filers fail to separate public and non-public information, and authorize district court staff to strike documents from the record if non-compliance is detected after a document has been added to the court record.
 
To address common errors in court filings, the amendments provide clarity, reduce complexity and emphasize that anyone who files court documents is responsible for removing restricted identifiers and other non-public information. Restricted identifiers are defined in General Rule of Practice 11, and described in the Case Records Table.  Filers may include attorneys, paralegals, self-represented litigants, and anyone else who files documents with Minnesota’s state courts.
 
Key provisions in the Rules changes:
  • Authorize district court staff to reject incoming documents in many case types if the filer has failed to properly separate non-public information or documents. Excluded from this provision are criminal, juvenile delinquency, juvenile protection, and civil commitment cases.
  • Restrict access to court documents that contain non-public information. Filers will receive a notice from district court staff to re-file the document with the non-public information removed. If the filer doesn’t re-file within three days, the document is marked “stricken” and updated so that judges cannot view it or consider it as part of the court record. This does not apply to criminal, juvenile delinquency, or civil commitment cases, or to medical records in any type of case. Striking in juvenile protection cases is only authorized for restricted identifiers.
  • Except in civil commitment cases, medical records are public unless the person who filed them designates them as non-public. District court staff are not authorized to reject or strike medical records.
  • Make paternity cases public from their inception. This is on a day-forward basis only. Paternity cases initiated before January 1, 2021 will only become public after a final adjudication of paternity.
  • Require a new universal cover sheet or eFiling code for identifying all non-public documents, except for the cover sheet already used in juvenile protection cases.
  • Require a two-step process for eFilers to both identify and designate non-public documents.
To assist attorneys, legal professionals, and court filers, including self-represented litigants, a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) presentation, “Important New Amendments to the Court Rules: What You Need to Know,” will be offered via Zoom on multiple dates. The CLE is free, but registration is required. Also available are the presentation slides, updated Registered User Guide for those who need assistance filing electronically, and other updated eFiling resources.
 
For more information, the orders regarding the Court Rules amendments can be found at: