Effective today, the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that child welfare and juvenile justice cases will proceed apace, but will rely mostly on video and telephonic interaction.
Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said that all cases of a “super high” or “high” priority will continue as normal. All court facilities will also remain open.
“The courts are one of the first promises made in the Minnesota Constitution. The prudent and temporary measures we are implementing balance public safety, the safety of people visiting courthouses, and the safety of our workforce. The Minnesota Judicial Branch is committed to ensuring that this delicate balance is upheld as the state copes with COVID-19,” said Gildea, in a statement.
Gildea also declared that “to the extent practicable,” proceedings “should be held through Interactive Video Teleconference or other video or telephone conferencing.”
Joanna Woolman, who leads the Child Protection Clinic at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, said the court’s decision is a good one.
“I think those hearings are critical and should be heard,” she said, in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change. “If video/phone can be used in a way that gives parents, families [and] children meaningful access to court processes I support that.”