Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued a statewide order effective Feb. 1, 2021, that limits in-person activity in courthouses for an additional 45 days and creates standing criteria to hold criminal jury trials during that time.
“We are keeping the doors to justice open in a manner that prioritizes health and safety,” said Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. “Through online hearings, socially-distanced courtrooms, and our self-help centers, Minnesotans have had a place to turn to find support, resolve their disputes, and protect their rights during this unprecedented time.”
Under the order, no new criminal jury trials will commence before March 15, 2021, unless the chief judge in the district where the trial is to be held grants an exception. Exceptions shall be granted for criminal cases that meet three criteria – the defendant has requested a speedy trial, the defendant is in custody, and the case involves a felony or non-felony person crime - unless the chief judge determines that a trial cannot be held safely due to local conditions.
No in-person civil jury trials will be held before March 15, 2021, unless an exception is granted by the chief judge in the district where the trial will be held after consultation with the Chief Justice. The order does allow a civil jury trial to take place remotely if all parties and the judge are in agreement.
The new order extends provisions that were included in a Nov. 20, 2020, order that limited in-person activities in court facilities due to a significant increase in COVID-19 infection rates across the state. These include:
•Remote Hearings: Hearings across all case types will be conducted remotely to the extent possible. Exceptions may be granted by the district chief judge for in-person proceedings under limited circumstances.
•Appellate Courts: Proceedings in appeals pending before the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court will continue as scheduled by those courts.
•Civil Commitment: Proceedings that are before the Commitment Appeal Panel shall continue as scheduled and be conducted remotely to the extent possible.
•Case Filings: Courts will continue to accept filings in all case types.
•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: Self-Help Services will be conducted by appointment, remotely or by telephone.
District courts may be contacted directly by phone or email for more information on their operations.