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Minnesota looking into broader remote coverage of courts

MINNEAPOLIS — The state of Minnesota is looking into expanding remote coverage of court proceedings, after a test run of sorts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In asking a committee to study the issue, the state Supreme Court noted Thursday that remote technology and livestreaming in the last year “provided increased transparency and accessibility at a time when physical access to court facilities was limited” because of the coronavirus.

“The time is right to consider whether the current requirements for audio and video coverage of criminal proceedings in courtrooms should be amended to accommodate broader public access,” Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said.

The rules on audio and video coverage were last updated in 2018. They allow remote coverage with the consent of all parties before a guilty plea has been accepted or a guilty verdict is returned. After that, coverage is allowed without the consent of the parties unless the judge finds good cause to prohibit it.

The Supreme Court order asks the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure to review both the current rules and a previous pilot project to determine whether the requirements for remote coverage of criminal proceedings should be modified or expanded.

The group of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys has a July 2022 deadline to file a report.