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 Sitka courthouse is only allowing telephonic or video appearance in most court cases until at least August 6, 2021. See PJ Order 21-15 and Telephonic Hearings & Conferences.
- The Fairbanks court requires an appointment for customer service. In Anchorage, at the Nesbett customer service desk or the Probate office (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 using your computer, mobile phone or other mobile device if you need to come in person for court business.
- Most court hearings are remote, with participants joining by phone or Zoom.
- Some courts are returning 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 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?
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,
- 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 except some jury trials. Read What types of Jury Trials are happening?
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. Read Preparing for a Hearing by Video or Phone.
If there is an in-person hearing, the judge will tell everyone where to sit to make sure people are far enough apart to follow social distancing guidelines. Read If I go to a courthouse, what safety measures do I need to take and what measures is the court taking?
To participate by phone, you need to:
- call 1-800-768-2983, and then
- dial a specific access code associated with the courtroom or judge.
You can find your local courtroom code at Telephonic Hearings and Conference Lines.
Note: it seems calls connect easier if you use a landline instead of a cell phone
If you have trouble dialing into the toll-free 1-800 #, you can also dial one of these numbers (these are not toll-free numbers):
- dial a specific access code associated with the courtroom or judge.
Do not file a motion to appear by telephone. You can just call the conference line and use the associated access code.
There are two ways that the public can observe a hearing, depending on how the judge is handling remote participation for that particular hearing – by phone or video.
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.
If you do not know what courtroom conference line to call, you need to identify the judge or courtroom where the hearing will be held. You can:
- look up the case name or number in Courtview. Under "Events" you will see the courtroom where the hearing will be held.
- starting the day before the hearing, find the courtroom and judge listed on the court Calendars page.
- find your local courtroom code at Telephonic Hearings and Conference Lines. Then call 1-800-768-2983, and then dial the specific access code associated with the courtroom or judge.
To make sure the courtroom conference line is open, contact the local court to let them know you would like to listen to the hearing.
Watch on Youtube if the hearing is being held by Zoom
- Some judges are holding hearings where the people involved in appear by video using Zoom. If you want to observe the hearing and notify the local court at least 72 hours in advance, the court can set up a video stream to Youtube. The video will be available only during the hearing and deleted at the end of the 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:
If you have a civil case (your case number ends with “CI”), you should send all documents to the other side by email after the case has started (there are different requirements for serving a complaint and summons to start a case). If the other side does not have email, you can mail the other side their copy.
At the end of the document you file with the court, you need to fill out the certificate of service section and state that you served the other side by email. An example.
You are required to give the court and the other side your email address; remember to check your email regularly. If you don’t have an email address, be sure the court and the other side have your current address and check your mail regularly.
For more information about service, read about serving the other side.
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.