Minnesota courts to begin gradual transition for more in-person proceedings

Starting Monday, Minnesota state courts will begin a transitional phase to gradually increase the amount in-person proceedings held in court facilities.

According to an order issued Friday by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea, on Monday, judges and court employees will be allowed to return to work on a gradual basis. Starting June 1, a limited amount of pilot jury trials will be permitted to start. During the governor's stay-at-home order, some hearings have been held virtually.

"True access to justice means people in our courthouses are safe and feel safe," said Chief Justice Gildea in a press release. "When people return to our courthouses they will see new signage, physical barriers, staff and judicial officers wearing face coverings, frequent sanitization, and many other new protocols set up to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

Courts will need to follow the Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which outlines expectations for social distancing, disinfecting areas and more. Staff and judicial officers are "strongly encouraged" to wear a face covering. Paper face coverings will be provided for jurors.

Once courts are in compliance with the Preparedness Plan, they can begin strategies to transition for more in-person courthouse proceedings for civil, criminal, juvenile and probate cases.