Minnesota Judicial Branch to lift pandemic restrictions in June, continue some remote hearings

The Minnesota Judicial Branch is getting ready to lift its restrictions that were implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, don’t expect remote hearings to stop.

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued an order that will lift pandemic restrictions on June 6.

Additionally, Gildea laid out a plan to continue using remote hearings in an effort to both improve service and expand access.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Under the plan, many non-criminal hearings will be presumed remote, unless there’s an exceptional circumstance requiring an in-person proceeding, such as an evidentiary hearing. For criminal hearings, each judicial district can now develop a localized plan to, in part, help address the large backlog of cases from during the pandemic.

The lifting of pandemic restrictions could impact whether the state trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death is livestreamed.

Earlier this month, the judge noted the circumstances were riskier during Derek Chauvin’s trial and, under the current law, there may not be a basis to livestream the trial. However, no decision by the judge has been filed at this time.