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Statement by Chief Justice Jensen on the court system’s continued response to the pandemic

The North Dakota Court System continues to closely monitor federal, state and local responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognize that the pandemic continues to pose a threat to individuals and to present challenges to the administration of the justice system. The health and safety of litigants, judicial officers, court staff, and all who participate in or observe court proceedings continues to be our priority.

As the Judicial Branch moves toward normal operations, the need to manage the North Dakota judicial system through statewide emergency orders has been significantly reduced. Several of the Supreme Court’s Emergency Orders have therefore been repealed or modified to reflect our current circumstances.

Each individual judicial officer has the discretion to conduct court proceedings as he or she determines to be appropriate. Local conditions will dictate whether or not resolution of pending cases should be conducted through written submissions and electronic or telephone appearances in lieu of requiring litigants and others to be personally present at hearings. Similarly, participants in mediation and mediators will individually determine whether to continue using reliable electronic means to conduct mediation sessions. Committee chairs, after considering the input of other committee members and the availability of appropriate facilities, have the discretion to schedule in-person meetings or continue to conduct their meetings through the use of reliable electronic means.