It hardly needs to be said that the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we interact as a society, and, while compensable injuries and legal claims continue to arise, in-person court proceedings have not escaped impact. In Minnesota, jury trials and in-person hearings have largely been put on a pause since March. However, if you have a legal claim currently pending trial or are summoned for jury duty, you may be asking yourself: Are Minnesota courts allowing jury trials in light of COVID-19?
The answer is a mixed bag and undoubtedly subject to change at any time due to the potential for a second wave of infection in the Fall. The facts as they stand today are that criminal jury trials in many counties resumed in August. Civil jury trials have resumed as of September 1, 2020 and are slowly returning, with newly implemented changes to facilities and protocols that must be followed to meet social distancing and safety needs consistent with the Minnesota Department of Health. Unsurprisingly, there is a significant backlog of both criminal and civil jury trials.
If you have been summoned for jury duty you must still complete your juror questionnaire according to the instructions on your summons. There is a mobile app called My Minnesota Juror that can be used for that purpose. Download the app when you receive your summons, log in, find your service location, then present your juror check-in barcode when you arrive at the designated courthouse. Whether you are selected as a juror or not will depend on the case and your specific circumstances and background. Failure to appear when summoned for jury service, absent a showing of good cause, may result in being guilty of a misdemeanor. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact an attorney or the court administrator for the county in which you have been summoned. Court administrators may answer general questions, but they likely will not provide legal advice.
The bottom line is that jury trials are returning in Minnesota. Do not let COVID-19 prevent you from pursuing your legal claims and receiving the recovery to which you are entitled!
If you or a loved one have been injured or have a legal issue, call our office at 651-493-0426 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.