Minnesota Courts and COVID-19: A Timeline of Events


On March 13, 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice, Lorie Gildea, issued an order addressing the continuing operations of Minnesota courts under a statewide peacetime declaration of emergency. In the order, Justice Gildea provided guidance that all cases before the Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court would continue as scheduled.

In the order, the Chief Judge gave direction as to what Priority level hearings are designated. Most criminal hearings are either Super High Priority or High Priority. The order stated that any cases that were currently in trial would continue; however no new jury trials would begin for the next 30 days unless they were Super High Priority or High Priority with a speedy demand pursuant to the rules of Criminal Procedure. Other than Super High Priority and High Priority cases, all court district court proceedings would be suspended until March 30, 2020.

On March 20, 2020, Chief Justice Gildea issued an updated order adhering to social distancing. In this order, several timelines were pushed back. Specifically, the order stated all criminal proceedings for out of custody individuals would be suspended until at least April 22, 2020, unless they could be conducted remotely. Cases involving defendants in custody would continue to be held in the courtroom. Further, the order mandated that in cases were public safety concerns are paramount, in person hearings would still be conducted.

Finally, as of March 27, 2020, a Stay At Home order was issued by Governor Walz. However, attorneys are exempt and are still able to travel for purposes of rendering legal advice. As such, we are prepared to appear with our clients as necessary in court and remotely if possible.

What Does This Mean for Criminal Cases?

At this time, there is much unknown as to how long social distancing will be recommended. Many people who are defendants in criminal cases will find themselves in a position where their case may not advance for months on end. This will increase anxiety and frustration in an already anxious situation. Not to mention the collateral consequences criminal cases can cause such as employment and housing.

What Does It Mean For Protective Orders?

If you are seeking a Protective Order from the court or are defending yourself against one, the stakes are higher than ever. Should a Protective Order be issued, the restrained person can be temporarily, and ultimately permanently, excluded from the home. To make sure your case is adequately heard, an attorney is able to help you navigate the court system during this pandemic.

At Caplan & Tamburino, we are prepared to handle cases remotely and have been actively advocating for our clients while adhering to social distancing recommendations. We are able to consult with prospective clients, as well as current clients, to affectively advance their case. If you are looking for representation, our phones are answered 24/7.

Call us at (612) 444-5020 today to speak with an attorney.