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News Item
Many digital tools for litigants still available while court services limited

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020

Last week, the Minnesota Judicial Branch announced that access to courthouses and in-person court services will be limited in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While access to courthouses will be limited until at least April 22, 2020, many services and online tools are available for the public to get their questions answered and complete documents for their cases. The Statewide Self-Help Center accepts calls at (651) 435-6535, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and also responds to email questions sent through its contact form. Find basic information about more than 40 common legal topics, court forms, videos and tutorials, and more.
 
Guide & File – An online interview tool for certain case types
Guide & File is a free, online, mobile friendly interview tool that asks simple questions and uses the answers to complete the appropriate court forms. It also gives helpful information throughout the interview to explain legal terms and concepts. The resulting forms can be printed or may be electronically-filed with the court.
 
Litigants who plan to file by paper are asked to contact the court for the current process for filing paper copies. Guide & File is available for the following case types:
  • Conciliation Court
  • Eviction
  • Affidavit of Service (for Conciliation Court and Eviction)
  • Restraining Orders (Orders for Protection and Harassment Restraining Orders)
  • Starting a Divorce with Children
 
Additional information, including frequently asked questions (FAQs), tools and resources, and a list of all the interviews, are available through the Guide & File Help Topic.
 
Contact the Statewide Self-Help Center or gfhelp@courts.state.mn.us with questions or to request support with Guide & File.
 
Fillable Smart Forms – Forms with built-in intelligence
Fillable Smart Forms can be used to make it easier to complete forms and electronically file. Responses in Fillable Smart Forms can auto-populate to fields that ask for the same information, “hide” questions that do not apply, and allows for longer answers in some answer fields. Fillable Smart Forms reduce extra and unnecessary pages, and can easily be saved and prepared for eFiling. The Forms can also be printed and completed on paper. 
 
The answers to FAQs explain how users can change their internet browser settings to more easily open the Forms. Fillable Smart Forms cannot be used on mobile devices or with Chromebooks.
 
eFile – Submitting documents to the court electronically
Documents may be submitted to the court electronically using the eFile and eServe (eFS) system. More information about eFiling is available at www.mncourts.gov/efile, with helpful training materials on the eFile and eServe Training tab.
 
Contact the eFile Support Center with questions or for support with eFS: (612) 902-9585, or (844) 918-1724 for those calling long distance from a land line phone. Support is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
 
Contacting the Court
In order to make it easy for the public to find their county-specific district court information, an easy-to-find drop-down menu has been added to the Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 webpage. Each court’s phone number and email contact form, along with any courthouse-specific information, will show up based on the county selected.