News Item
Chief Justice Issues Order Lifting Pandemic-related Restrictions And Announces Policy Continuing Remote Hearings

Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2022

 Chief Justice Issues Order Lifting Pandemic-related Restrictions And Announces Policy Continuing Remote Hearings

On April 19, 2022, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued an order lifting all pandemic-related restrictions and announced a new Judicial Branch policy, the oneCourtMN Hearings Initiative Policy, laying out the framework for presumed hearing locations going forward.  Some hearing types that have been held remotely will return to in-person events, while many hearing types will continue to be held remotely unless exceptional circumstances exist as defined in the order. The policy contains a chart that indicates the presumed hearing location for each hearing type in all Non-Criminal case types.  The order and policy are effective June 6, 2022.

The framework for remote and in-person hearings impacts both Criminal and Non-Criminal case types and lays out a plan for the continued use of remote hearings into the future. All hearings that were scheduled before June 6 will take place as detailed in hearing notices. Any hearing scheduled or hearing notice issued on or after June 6 will follow the new policy.

“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,” said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. “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.”

Information about the presumed location of Non-Criminal hearing types can be found in this accessible chart.  Case participants will find the most accurate information about how their court hearing will take place on their Hearing Notice.

For hearings in Non-Criminal case types, including case types like Family, Domestic Abuse, Harassment, Eviction, and Major and Minor Civil, many hearing types are generally presumed remote.  There is a presumption that evidentiary hearings – hearings where evidence is being presented or testimony is taken on issues in dispute – will generally be held in-person. Judicial officers will have the authority to grant case-by-case exemptions to these guidelines, but only under exceptional circumstances.

For hearings in Criminal cases, each judicial district, for now, will have the authority to develop its own localized plan for using both remote and in-person hearings in criminal cases. These localized plans will help each district address the large backlog of felony and gross misdemeanor cases stemming from the pandemic. 

Treatment court proceedings are generally presumed in person for participants.

About the oneCourtMN Hearings Initiative Framework
The Minnesota Judicial Council in September 2021 approved the framework for the continuation of remote hearings in some case types.  The work of developing the remote hearing framework and the subsequent rollout was guided by the oneCourtMN Hearings Initiative Steering Committee appointed by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea, and informed by feedback gathered from judges, court staff, attorneys, and court users across the state.  The work to improve remote and in-person proceedings represents the commitment of the Minnesota Judicial Branch to innovation and transformational change for a more user-focused judicial system.