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OAH COVID-19 Procedures

OAH COVID-19 Procedures

Throughout the pandemic, OAH has been committed to the continuation of our critical court services while also providing a safe environment for both the people we serve and our employees. 

Following guidance from the CDC, Governor Walz, and the Minnesota Department of Health, we developed a COVID-19 Return to In-Person Proceedings Plan.The plan describes the steps we are taking to safely transition back to in-person work, including the changes described below.

As we transition back to in-person work, we remain mindful of the benefits of both in-person and remote court proceedings: 

  • Respecting the tenets of procedural fairness; 
  • Enhancing fair, timely, and impartial court services through virtual and electronic technologies; 
  • Reducing travel, parking, and negative impact to the environment; and 
  • Supporting continuity of operations, including during health and safety situations.

Proceeding Locations

Starting July 1, 2021, the following location is presumed for each type of proceeding. Notices issued before July 1, 2021 are largely consistent with these presumptions. If you have a question, contact the presiding judge or the judge’s legal assistant. Parties may move the court to use an alternative approach on a case-by-case basis. Alternative remote options include telephone, Microsoft Teams, Webex, hybrid, and in certain situations ITV.

    Administrative Law Division

Proceeding type Remote In Person
On-the-record proceeding where an interpreter is present X
Non-record proceeding where an interpreter is present X
Telephone

Evidentiary Hearings X
Mediations X
Settlement Conferences X
Prehearing Conferences X
Telephone
Attorney Fee Hearings X
Teams
Motion Hearings X
Teams
Public Comment Hearings X
Webex

Workers' Compensation Division

Proceeding type Remote In Person
Proceeding where an interpreter is present X
Non-record proceeding where an interpreter is present X
Telephone

Evidentiary Hearings X
Mediations X
.239 Conferences X
Telephone

Pretrial Conferences X
Telephone
Settlement Conferences X
Telephone
Attorney Fee Hearings X
Teams
Motion Hearings X
Teams
Asbestos Conferences X
Webex

Microsoft Teams

Teams remains a viable alternative to both telephone and in-person proceedings. Parties may request a Teams proceeding by motion.

Review the Teams user guide before participating in a Teams proceeding.

Webex

We recommend Webex for public comment hearings in our Administrative Law Division and asbestos conferences in our Workers’ Compensation Division because:

  • It allows us to use an operator-assisted call to moderate public comments;
  • It reduces barriers such as travel for people to attend;
  • Participants can see more people at once if video is used (up to 25);
  • Participants do not need to create an account;
  • Participants can connect from computers, mobile devices, or tablets; and
  • The record-keeping features support accurate rosters of hearing attendance.

Webex is also a good option for other proceedings involving numerous parties and their representatives. Parties may request a Webex proceeding by motion.

Hybrid

A hybrid proceeding is one where some participants appear in person and others virtually. A hybrid proceeding may be helpful, for example, to minimize travel for witnesses. Parties may request a hybrid proceeding by motion.

ITV

Interactive Television (ITV) continues to be used in limited scope for particular hearings in our Administrative Law Division. Whenever possible, Teams is the preferred platform over ITV. 

Exhibits

Absent case-related circumstances, all exhibits must still be be eFiled, regardless of the proceeding's location. This applies to all hearings: motion hearings, attorney fee hearings, and in-person and video evidentiary hearings.

New courtroom technology allows parties to electronically display exhibits in the hearing room. Judges will only request paper courtesy copies when there is a case-specific need.

Health and Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, especially with variant virus outbreaks. As we transition back to in-person proceedings, we also remain focused on everyone’s safety.

Health screening

OAH employees must pass a health screening before entering the building. Court visitors, including attorneys, parties, and interpreters, do not need to pass a formal health screening. Signs in OAH's lobby encourage visitors to report any COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure to their attorney or judge.

Face masks

OAH visitors are strongly recommended to wear face masks that cover both the mouth and nose. When you come to OAH, please bring a face mask with you. OAH has a limited supply of disposable masks for visitors. 

State employees are required to wear face masks inside state buildings. This means OAH judges wear face masks during in-person proceedings.

Face masks may be temporarily removed while testifying or speaking in a court proceeding. Face shields are strongly encouraged as an alternative and parties should immediately put their face masks back on when they are done testifying or speaking.

Hand washing

We will continue to promote good hand hygiene and continue to provide hand sanitizer throughout our courtroom area.

Social distancing

Social distancing measures are not currently required at OAH. 

Vaccination

Vaccination is strongly encouraged, but not required, for visitors. OAH employees who must be at the worksite must either prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly. Walk-in vaccinations are available in many places. Visit VaccineConnector.mn.gov to find an opportunity near you.

What to do if you're sick 

Please do not come to court if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been directed to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. If your client or a witness is symptomatic or quarantining, please do not bring them to court. If you cannot attend court because you are sick or quarantined, Workers' Comp litigants should call or email the assigned judge. Administrative Law litigants should call or email the assigned judge's legal assistant. 

What to do if you get sick later

If you visit OAH and later develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact the Minnesota Department of Health:

Minnesota Department of Health
651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903
Interpreters available

The Minnesota Department of Health will help the you decide whether to obtain a COVID-19 test. If a test is positive, the caller will receive follow-up from contact tracers and OAH will hear from the contact tracers.

We will keep you informed 

We will update this page as needed. We will also use GovDelivery to notify court users of any changes by email. If you need to sign up for GovDelivery, use the popup box on the lower right corner of our website.

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