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Minnesota Judicial Center
The Minnesota Judicial Center is seen in this January 2020 photo. (AP file photo: Jim Mone)

State judiciary is ramping up in-person court proceedings

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has announced the next steps in a gradual return to more in-person court proceedings and modifications to its COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“The Minnesota Judicial Branch has relied on public health experts throughout the pandemic,” Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said in a news release Tuesday. “Based on revised guidelines at both the federal and state level, we will continue our gradual return to more in-person proceedings in court facilities in a deliberate and responsible manner that prioritizes health and safety.”

According to the release, a new statewide order expands in-person court proceedings in accordance with revised health and safety protocols in the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The order, effective June 14 through Sept. 6, states:

  • Criminal jury trials will be held in person.
  • Civil jury trials can be held in person.
  • Major criminal, juvenile protection (including Child in Need of Protection or Services and Permanency cases types), and juvenile delinquencytrials and contested hearings will be held in person.
  • Criminal settlement conferences will be held in person.
  • Grand jury proceedings will be held in person.
  • Mandatory Misdemeanor Criminal trials and contested hearings are to be held in person beginning Aug. 2.
  • All other district court proceedings will be held remotely unless the chief judge of the judicial district grants permission for an in-person proceeding based on extenuating circumstances.
  • Appellate courts: Proceedings in appeals before the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court will continue as scheduled by those courts.
  • Public service counters: At least one public service counter in each county, and one in the appellate courts, will be accessible between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, excluding court holidays. Counter service can be provided remotely, by appointment, or in person.
  • Self-help services will continue to be conducted by appointment, remotely, or by telephone.
  • Courthouse (public access) terminals are available to the public and media based on hours established by the local district court.
  • Media access: Media may attend in-person court proceedings held in courtrooms and to record those proceedings as permitted by court rules. See Section 18 of ADM20-8001for additional details on media access to in-person and remote proceedings.

Masks, distancing

Beginning June 14, 2021:

  • Face coverings are required inside courtrooms and in jury deliberation spaces. Presiding judges may allow for removal of face coverings in the courtroom if deemed necessary, as long as 6 feet of physical distance can be maintained while the face coverings are removed. Face coverings in public areas of a county-owned court facility will be required if local government guidelines mandate their use. Any person who wishes to wear a face covering in a court facility may do so.
  • Social distancing is not required in court facilities for brief interactions or when people are wearing face coverings. Brief interaction is defined as when two or more different households are within 6 feet of each other for less than 15 minutes total within a 24-hour period.

 

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