State Courts Limit In-Person Activity in Court Facilities Due to COVID-19 Spike.

The response to COVID-19 has impacted access to courthouses and may change the way cases are handled.
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Safely Reopening Court Facilities

District and appellate courts are undertaking a thorough, methodical, and gradual approach to increasing the number and type of in-person activities held in court facilities as the state’s response to COVID-19 matures.

Courts will follow guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of court interactions. The Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 Preparedness Plan details the safety measures that will be followed in courthouses. The Preparedness Plan addresses exposure control measures and specific recommendations courts will follow as in-person courthouse activities resume. The Preparedness Plan addresses expectations for:

Symptoms & Contact

Do not visit any court facility if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

Symptoms:

  • chills,
  • cough,
  • muscle pain,
  • sore throat,
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
  • fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or
  • new loss of taste or smell.

If you are required to visit a court facility but have symptoms or have had exposure in the last 14 days contact the court or your attorney as soon as possible, rather than come to the courthouse. See the Minnesota Department of Health Visitor and Employee Health Screening Checklist for more information about symptoms screening.

Social Distancing

Social distancing means maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others, in all directions, at all times. Court facilities will require social distancing during this transition period, and it must be maintained by employees as well as courthouse visitors.

Courthouse visitors may see new partitions or barriers, floor markings indicating 6-foot increments, and signage reminding visitors to stay an appropriate distance apart.

Face Coverings

Face coverings must be worn in all court facilities beginning July 13. If you do not have a face covering or have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing one, tell staff immediately. Visitors who do not have access to a face covering will be provided one.

All staff and judicial officers are required to wear either their own cloth face covering or one provided by the court.

All jurors will be provided a paper face covering, should they choose to not wear their own. Justice partners are to wear their own face coverings in the court facility.

Judicial officers may direct face coverings to be temporarily removed during court proceedings.

Court facility visitors may see signage regarding the requirement that visitors and staff wear a face covering.

Learn more by reviewing the Frequently Asked Questions »

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Courts are coordinating closely with local public health and Counties to ensure that appropriate cleaning and disinfecting is conducted.

Additional cleaning measures, consistent with CDC recommendations will be implemented if court staff or a judicial officer is confirmed positive with COVID-19.

Courthouse visitors will see frequent disinfecting and cleaning of commonly touched surfaces in the workplace, such as countertops, workstations, keyboards, desks, tables, handrails, doorknobs, and more. Common spaces such as lobbies, courtrooms, restrooms, and breakrooms will be cleaned and

disinfected more frequently. Ventilation has been increased to allow for more fresh air to circulate. Hand sanitizer stations will be available and signage will encourage frequent and proper handwashing.

Courtrooms & Common Spaces

Social distancing and appropriate exposure control measures will be implemented and maintained in courtrooms and common spaces as court facilities reopen.

Visitors to court facilities may see reorganized public seating to permit social distancing, partitions or barriers, signage limiting the number of people in a courtroom, cleaning supplies and sanitizer used between hearings, and employees and judicial officers wearing masks.

Exposure Notification Protocols

The Minnesota Judicial Branch is following notification protocols based on guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. In accordance with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidance, state courts will notify all individuals who were in close contact in a court facility with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

District courts that have resumed criminal jury trials must comply with the Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, implement recommendations for Re-Starting Jury Trials during COVID-19. These documents address changes to facilities and protocols that must be followed to meet social distancing and safety needs, and were developed with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Jurors should respond to their jury summons letter as required.

Face coverings are required to be worn in court facilities. You may wear your own face covering or a disposable face covering provided by the court each day you report to the courthouse. Jurors will assemble, participate in voir dire, listen to proceedings, deliberate, and move throughout the courthouse while maintaining 6 feet of social distance in every direction. Guidance will be available for how to follow social distancing in seating and elevator use. Where necessary partitions and physical barriers have been set up in each courthouse to ensure that traffic flow and interactions are taking place safely.

Locations Approved for Criminal Jury Trial Re-Start

Information about jury service »

Court facilities are owned and operated by county leadership, not the courts. Therefore, local requirements for entry may vary.

Select the county you are visiting to learn more about local expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic for courthouse entry.

Select a County:

For information about Aitkin County’s local requirements for courthouse entry, please visit the Aitkin COVID-19 webpage. If you have questions about visiting the courthouse please contact the court via email or phone (218) 927-7350.