Changes about Filings and Hearings
The Alaska Court System changed its operations temporarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some operations are resuming. The following questions and answers explain the general changes that are included in the orders issued by the Chief Justice and Presiding Judges:
Note: Click on a question to expand or collapse content.
- The courts are operating but the processes have been changed so you can take care of your court business by phone, email, or online.
- The Fairbanks court offers an appointments for customer service, so you don't have to wait in line. Details.
- In Anchorage, at the Probate or Children's Division (trusts, wills, estates, guardianship, conservatorship, adoption, juvenile delinquency, child in need of aid, and payments from a court case to a minor child's parent or guardian, but not custody, divorce, or probation), you can make an appointment by phone so you do not have to wait in line if you need to come in person for court business. Only one person is allowed in the customer service area at a time.
- Some courts have returned to in-person hearings. Some hearings are by phone or Zoom. If you are not sure if your hearing is in person or remote, check with the judge or your local court.
- There are health and safety restrictions for entering a courthouse, described below.
If I go to a courthouse, what safety measures do I need to take and what measures is the court taking?
Are masks required in the courthouse? / If I go to my hearing in person, will there be social distancing?
- “high,” all visitors must wear masks and socially distance six feet from others;
“medium,” all visitors must wear masks or socially distance from others. For jury trials, the judge will determine if:
- All courtroom participants will wear masks and do not need to socially distance from others, or
- No courtroom participants will wear masks but must socially distance at least six feet from others; or
- Some participants will wear masks but others will socially distance. This means some jurors may be masked in the jury box but others may feel more comfortable sitting socially distanced if the courtroom size can accommodate that arrangement.
- “low,” visitors do not have to mask or socially distance from others, but masking may be done voluntarily.
How does a visitor take care of their court business if they cannot enter based on the screening information above?
The court system has provided remote access for most services and proceedings, including:
- asking questions to customer service,
- providing information to self-represented litigants,
- filing documents,
- paying filing fees,
- making online payments, and
- posting bail by paying online, and
- allowing telephonic and videoconference participation for many hearings.
Call your local court if you have questions about your individual situation.
All hearings are taking place.
You should appear in person, by phone or video according to what the scheduling notice provides.
If you want to appear a different way, you can ask the judge during a hearing or file a motion asking the judge to allow you to appear a different way. Read about motions.
If you appear by phone or video in a criminal or juvenile case, the court will work to help you have a confidential way to talk to your lawyer during the hearing, if you need to.
You can find phone numbers to call into a court hearing at "Telephonic Hearings and Conference Lines." If the hearing is by Zoom, the scheduling notice will include the Zoom link and passcode information.
There are different ways that the public can observe a hearing.
Call the courtroom conference line
- If the hearing will happen with the participants on the phone, members of the public may call the courtroom conference line to listen to all non-confidential court hearings using the conference call information in the last FAQ.
Watch on Court's Livestream page
- Some hearings are live-streamed on the Alaska Court System’s live-stream webpage. The video will not be saved or available after the proceeding ends.
- See Photographing, Filming, Recording, or Streaming a Court Proceeding.
Request the audio recording for a hearing
- For a hearing that already happened, you can request a copy of the audio recording. Please use one of the audio recording request forms listed below, and include a $20.00 payment.
Courts are now accepting most documents by email or fax, including the documents filed to start a case. You can read the Email and Fax Filing Instructions.
You may sign your documents electronically.
You can sign your court documents with an e-signature by typing “s” and then typing your name between forward slashes. For example:
If you need to have your signature notarized and do not have any access to a notary public, you can explain your situation to the court by filling out and filing the Self-Certification (No Notary Available) form.
If you do not have any access to a notary public, you can explain your situation to the court by filling out and filing:
Can I still send the complaint and documents to start my case to the other side by certified mail if the post office signs the green card?
Civil Rule 4 requires that the person starting the case send the other side a copy of the documents filed in court by certified mail or a process server. Usually the person receiving the certified mail must sign the green card showing receipt of the mail. During the COVID-19 pandemic, postal carriers are signing the certified mail green card instead of the person receiving the mail. The court has temporarily changed the rule to accept the green card signed by the postal carrier during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who signs the certified mail green card is only an issue if you file for a default judgment because the other side does not file an answer responding to your complaint. In that situation, the judge may ask you questions to be sure the other side knew about the court case by receiving the documents you filed. Be prepared to tell the court any information you have about the other side getting your papers. For example, if you started a divorce case and your spouse emailed you about the papers, tell the judge and attach a copy of the email to your Default Application. If you want to be sure the other side receives a copy of your documents, you can use a process server, but that costs up to $65. List of authorized process servers.
Yes. If you need to ask the court for more time you can ask the judge by filing a motion. You can read about motions.