ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted in Minnesota courts, but remote hearings are here to stay.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued the order Tuesday, and announced the new oneCourtMN Hearings Initiative.
The policy, which goes into effect on June 6, outlines where criminal and non-criminal hearings will be held in state courts, with “the continued use of remote hearings” in many non-criminal cases. A chart has been devised that indicates those types of circumstances, which include cases involving families, domestic abuse, eviction, and harassment, to name a few.
Hearings that involve the presentation of evidence will usually be held in-person.
“The decision the Minnesota Judicial Council made to approve the oneCourtMN Hearings Initiative Policy represents one of the most important and consequential decisions made by our leadership body,” Gildea said. “Committing to the long-term use of remote hearings in our district courts will greatly expand access to justice and improve our service to the people of Minnesota.”
Each individual district will be able to come up with its own plan for in-person and remote hearings for criminal cases, as well as the freedom to allow exemptions on a case-by-case basis.
The new policy will impact hearings that were scheduled on or after June 6.
All criminal and civil trials in the state were initially suspended in early March of 2020 during the onset of the pandemic. Soon after, virtual hearings went into effect.
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