Tag Archives: Minnesota

John Smith appointed to Court of Appeals

The Minnesota Lawyer Blog reports on the most recent appointment to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Judge John P. Smith was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Smith will replace  Judge  Wilhelmina M. Wright, who was appointed earlier this year to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Smith has served on the Ninth  District Court for over 21 years. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Arne Carlson in 1991, and has served as chief judge and assistant chief judge. He has is currently  president of the Minnesota District Judges Association.

via John Smith appointed to Court of Appeals – MinnLawyer Blog.

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Citizens United in MN Court (8th Circuit en banc)

Minnesota can ban corporations from contributing to political campaigns but its regulation of independent expenditures is unconstitutional, the full 8th Circuit ruled.

Unlike direct campaign contributions, which are illegal for corporations in Minnesota, an independent expenditure represents money that the corporation pays to advocate for the election or defeat of various candidates.

The state requires corporations making political contributions greater than $100 to form a separate political fund with an appointed treasurer. Corporate donors must also disclose contact information for its treasurer, and a list all depositories or safe deposit boxes used.

The laws regulate not just corporations but almost all associations, meaning a group of two or more people acting together, who are not all family members.

As long as the fund is in existence, the treasurer must file annual reports with the state election board detailing the fund’s activity.

During general election years, which happen every other year, the treasurer must file four additional reports, 28 and 15 days before a primary, and 42 and 10 days before a general election.

These requirements continue until the fund is dissolved. Before dissolution the treasurer has to pay all of the fund’s debts, dispose of all assets valued at more than $100 and file a termination report, including the same info required in the fund’s periodic reports.

With supporting documentation the treasurer has to keep track of all contributions over $20, and all the fund’s expenditures. For four years from the date of filing these disclosure reports the treasurer must maintain the fund’s records for state inspection.

Associations and treasurers that do not comply with the law are subject to criminal and civil penalties ranging from fines to up to five years imprisonment.

Even if the fund is inactive during a general election year it still has to file the five reports.

Three organizations – Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises – sued Minnesota to block the laws in July 2010.

After a federal judge refused to enjoin the laws, a split three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit affirmed last year.

The full St. Louis-based court then agreed to hear the case en banc and vacated the panel decision Wednesday.

A six-judge majority enjoined the political fund reporting requirements, and all 11 judges agreed that the ban on corporate campaign contributions can stand.

“Minnesota’s law hinders associations from participating in the political debate and limits their access to the citizenry and the government,” according to the majority opinion authored by Chief Judge William Riley. “The law manifestly discourages associations, particularly small associations with limited resources, from engaging in protected political speech.”

“We conclude Minnesota’s requirement that all associations make independent expenditures through an independent expenditure political fund … is most likely unconstitutional,” Riley added.

The judges noted that their decision on the ban law relies on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which found that it does not violate the First Amendment to make corporations use Political Action Committees if they wish to make direct political contributions.

Judge Michael Melloy authored a partial dissent on behalf of three other members of the panel. That 12-page opinion states that Minnesota’s disclosure laws are not overly burdensome, and the majority should have deferred to state lawmakers.

“Instead of deferring to the legislature, the majority would instead impose its own judgment to determine that a $100 threshold for requiring reporting is too low, that five disclosure reports in an election year are too many, and that the administrative costs of keeping records in accordance with the law are too high,” Malloy wrote. “These issues are typically and best left to Minnesota’s democratically elected legislators.”

Though Judge Steven Colloton said he echoed Melloy’s opinion, he wrote separately to fight the assertion that Minnesota’s disclosure laws are appropriate to prevent “improper or suspect relationships between elected officials and the persons or groups that support them.”

Colloton wrote that the statement contradicts the Citizens United holding that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”


See the decision here.

via Courthouse News Service.

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District of Minnesota amendments to Local Rules

Starting on July 23, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota’s amendments will come into play.  Most of these amendments are stylistic.  However, there are a couple of substantive changes.

As of note, this summary is intended only as a summary of these changes.  This summary is not exhaustive. The summary is not intended to be legal advice on the rules.


The amendments for the Local Rules are as follows:

Local Rule 1.3, Sanctions

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.  In addition, LR 1.3 now specifies that it applies to “an attorney, law firm, or party.”


Local Rule 3.1, Civil Cover Sheet

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 4.1, Service

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 4.2, Fees

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.Subsection (a)(2) replaced the phrase “motion for permission to proceed in forma pauperis” with the actual title of the form from the clerk’s office, “application to proceed in district court without prepaying fees or costs.”

Subsection (a)(2) deleted the sentence “If permission to proceed in forma pauperis is later denied, the complaint shall be stricken.”  The District Court explained that “if the court denies a party’s application to proceed without prepaying fees or costs, the court gives the party an opportunity to pay those fees or costs before the court strikes the party’s complaint.”

Local Rule 5.3,  Time for Filing After Service

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 5.5, Redaction of Transcripts

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The new subsection (f) reflects the substance of the last sentence of former subsection (b).  Subsection (f) states “The court does not review transcripts to assess whether personal identifiers should be redacted.  Attorneys and unrepresented parties must do so themselves.”

Local Rule 6.1, Continuance

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 7.1, Civil Motion Practice

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

LR 7.1 was reorganized to add subsections (a) Meet and confer requirement, and (d) Motions for Emergency injunctive relief

Under subsection (a), parties must meet and confer before filing any civil motion, except a TRO, and file a meet and confer statement with the motion.  Parties must file a joint stipulation if parties agree on the resolution of all or part of the motion after the meet and confer statement is filed.

Under subsections (b) and (c), the District Court clarified that parties should file motions and supporting documents simultaneously.  In addition, the method of calculating deadlines has been changed.  Deadlines are now based on the filing date of the moving party’s motion and supporting documents, rather than on the hearing date.  Parties also now have 14 days to prepare a reply brief for a dispositive motion rather than the 7 days previously provided.

Subsection (b)(4) identifies types of motions that are considered nondispositive:  (i) motions to amend pleadings; (ii) motions with respect to third party practice; (iii) discovery-related motions; (iv) motions related to joinder and intervention of parties; and (v) motions to conditionally certify a case as a collective action.

Subsection (c) was amended to reflect the different practices of district judges.

Subsection (d) was added to provide guidance on filing motions for emergency injunctive relief.

Subsection (e) was amended to clarify that after filing a timely post-trial or post-judgement motion, the moving party must contact the judge’s calendar clerk to obtain a briefing schedule.

Local Rule 9.3,  Standard forms for habeas corpus petitions and motions by prisoners

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 15.1, Amended pleadings and motions to amend

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 16.1, Control of Pretrial Procedure by Individual Judges

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.  In addition, the language regarding ADR was moved to 16.5.  The language requiring parties to consider the use of ADR was removed because it was addressed in LR 26.1 and Forms 3-4.

Local Rule 16.2, Initial Pretrial Conference and Scheduling Order

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The previous language in (a) was moved to LR 26.1 regarding the initial pretrial conference.

Subsections (c) and (d)(2) were added to specify that issues related to confidential or protected documents must be addressed at the initial pretrial conference and may be addressed in the scheduling order.

Subsection (d)(3) clarifies the nature of discovery deadlines.  The language states, “The discovery deadlines… are deadlines for completing discovery, not for commencing discovery.  To be timely, a discovery request must be served far enough in advance of the applicable discovery deadline that the responding party’s response is due before the discovery deadline.”

Local Rule 16.3, Modification of a Scheduling Order

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The changes to subsections (a) and (b) are intended to clarify for parties that they cannot simply stipulate to a change in a scheduling order.  Instead, parties must move to modify a scheduling order.

Local Rule 16.4, Case Management Conference

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 16.5, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediated Settlement Conference

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The rule was amended to emphasize that a mediated settlement conference is not required in certain actions.

The time limit (which previously required a mediated settlement conference to be held within 45 days prior to trial) was eliminated.  Subsection (b) states that the mediated settlement conference must occur before trial (except in a proceeding listed in Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(B)).

Other subsections were amended to conform to the language of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 28 USC 651-658.

Local Rule 16.6, Final Pretrial Conference

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Subsection (b) clarified that although parties must be prepared to discuss the listed subjects, if some of the subjects are not relevant in a particular issue, the court is not required to discuss them.

Subsection (b)(13) clarified that the final pretrial conference can embrace any subjects identified in the relevant provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Local Rule 16.7, Other Pretrial Conferences

This section was abrogated as redundant.

Local Rule 17.1, Settlement of Action or Claim brought by Guardian or Trustee

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 23.1, Designation of “Class Action” in the Caption

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 26.1, Conference of the Parties Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f); Report; Protective Orders

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The new subsections (a) and (b) clarify the parties’ obligations to meet and confer and file a report (Form 3 or 4).  Forms 3 and 4 were revised.

The new subsection (c) was added to require the parties to address whether a protective order is necessary and incorporates reference to Forms 5 and 6.

Local Rule 26.2, Form of Certain Discovery Documents


This local rule was abrogated.  It was considered unnecessary due to the direction provided in LR 37.1.

Local Rule 26.3, Disclosure and Discovery of Expert Testimony


This local rule was abrogated.

Local Rule 26.4, Filing of Discovery Documents


This local rule was abrogated.

Local Rule 37.1, Form of Discovery Motions

The former LR 37.1 was abrogated.  LR 37.2 was renumbered was LR 37.1.

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

This rule was amended to require parties to meet and confer before filing any motion, and to file a meet and confer statement with the motion.

Local Rule 37.2,


It was renumbered was LR 37.1 after the former LR 37.1 was abrogated.

Local Rule 38.1, Demand for a Jury Trial

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.  The rule now instructs parties that they may demand a jury trial either by the method prescribed in LR 38.1 or by any other method that complies with Fed.R.Civ.P. 38(b).

Local Rule 54.3, Time Limit for Motions for Award of Attorney’s Fees and for Costs other than Attorney’s Fees


The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 72.2, Review of Magistrate Judge Rulings

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The new subsection (d) clarifies that the format and filing requirements apply to objections and responses to objections filed under this rule in all cases, whether civil or criminal.

via United States District Court – District of Minnesota.

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Voter ID and MN Sup Ct

Minnesota Supreme Court justices must now decide whether the voter ID constitutional amendment gets on the statewide ballot in its current form.

Six of the seven justices heard oral arguments today in the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters Minnesota and several other groups. Those amendment opponents claim the ballot question is too vague and misleading. Their attorney, Bill Pentelovitch, told justices that the biggest omission is no mention of a new provisional balloting system.

“The ballot question should at least give as much information as you would expect somebody, a consumer, a voter to get if they were going to buy a car or buy a house,” Pentelovitch said. “You would expect somebody not to lie to them and to at least tell them about the major things going on here, and this ballot question doesn’t do that.”

A lawyer for the Minnesota Legislature defended the ballot question. Thomas Boyd said the courts have previously given legislators wide latitude in the presentation of constitutional amendments.

“Concise statements, imperfect summaries, so on and so forth, they will not always contain every aspect of its subject,” Boyd said. “But the constitution says it’s the legislature and the Legislature alone that gets to formulate that brief summary.”

A ruling in the case could come next month.

via Supreme Court hears voter ID case | Capitol View | Minnesota Public Radio.

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Minnesota Supreme Court Adopts New E-Filing Rules; Mandatory E-Filing to begin in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties | Practice Blawg

The Minnesota Supreme Court adopted final e-filing rules as amendments to the Civil Rules, General Rules of Practice, and the Public Access Rules.  These new rules go into effect on September 1, 2012 and apply to all matters commenced on or after September 1.

Perhaps most significantly, the final rules mandate electronic filing of all documents by attorneys representing parties in, and government agencies appearing in, all general civil and family law cases in the Second and Fourth Judicial Districts (i.e., Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) other than Conciliation Court and Probate/Mental Health cases.  Attorneys and government agencies must also electronically serve all documents required or permitted to be served on other registered attorneys and government agencies in such cases.

While we suggest that you download the new rules by clicking on the link above, here are some additional points that may be of interest to you:

  • Filing by fax will no longer be permitted in cases where e-filing is required.
  • Documents that are to be filed electronically must be formatted as Microsoft Word documents, WordPerfect documents, PDF files, or .tif files. Without leave from the court, all images must be in black and white – no color images will be retained by the e-filing system.
  • Each electronic document must be smaller than 5MB and each filing must be smaller than 25 MB.  Larger documents or filings may be filed in several parts.
  • Attorneys representing parties and governmental agencies appearing in mandatory e-filing cases must register with the e-filing system upon filing of any document by any party.
  • New Rule 14.06 establishes a procedure for designating confidential or sealed documents that will be filed electronically.
  • In addition to the required e-filing described above, voluntary e-filing is permitted in conciliation and probate mental health courts in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties as designated by the respective courts. Voluntary e-filing in civil cases in other pilot locations  designated by the state court administrator will continue to be permitted.

via Minnesota Supreme Court Adopts New E-Filing Rules; Mandatory E-Filing to begin in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties | Practice Blawg.

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8th Circuit upholds judicial campaign restrictions

The Eighth Circuit in Wetsal v. Sexton, No. 09-1578, ruled en banc that the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct clauses for endorsement, personal solicitation, and solicitation for a political organization or candidate do not violate the First Amendment.

Under strict scrutiny, the State bore the burden of proof that the endorsement and solicitation clauses advance a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.

Minnesota argued that it had a compelling interest in maintaining judicial impartiality and in maintaining the appearance of judicial impartiality.  The Eighth Circuit agreed.  “[W]e easily conclude Minnesota’s interest in preserving the appearance of impartiality is compelling, particularly when cast against other interests courts have recognized as compelling.”

The Eighth Circuit also held that the judicial campaign restrictions were narrowly tailored.  The Court explained that the endorsement clause is narrowly tailored since it restricts speech for or against particular parties, rather than for or against particular issues.  The court explains its concern as follows,

Under either framework, a judge “who tips the outcome of a close election in a politician’s favor would necessarily be a powerful political actor, and thus call into question the impartiality of the court.”

The Court held the solicitation clause is also narrowly tailored.  The Court first distinguished itself from Republican Party of Minn. v. White, 416 F.3d 738 (8th Cir. 2005) (en banc), which dealt with large group solicitation and signature bans; as opposed to Wersal, which dealt with personal solicitation.  With a personal solicitation, “[a] contribution given directly to a judge, in response to a judge’s personal solicitation of that contribution, carries with it both a greater potential for a quid pro quo and a greater appearance of a quid pro than a contribution given to the judge’s campaign committee at the request of someone other than the judge, or in response to a mass mailing sent above the judge’s signature.”  Quoting Siefert v. Alexander, 608 F.3d 974, 989 (7th Cir. 2010).  The Court also concluded that because recusal would not be a workable remedy to prevent bias or the appearance of bias from personal solicitations, the solicitation clause is narrowly tailored.

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Independent Party

The Independence Party of Minnesota will not formally back a U.S. candidate in 2012, and will instead focus its efforts on a handful of legislative candidates.

Party Chairman Mark Jenkins said he cannot prohibit someone from running under the IP banner, but he said the party has no plans to recruit, endorse or provide financial support to a candidate. Jenkins said he thinks the Independence Party is poised to win some legislative seats for the first time, and that’s his priority as chairman. He said the party doesn’t have the resources right now to also run a U.S. Senate candidate.

“My hope is that in 2014 then maybe we have the resources to support both a statewide governors race and a slew of state legislative races,” Jenkins said. “But I mean it’s no secret that there are some areas of the state where we’re a little thin, and we need to built that up. I want that to be our focus.”

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is running for a second term next year. So far, two Republican challengers have stepped forward.

via Capitol View | Minnesota Public Radio.

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Gvt shutdown ends

From MPR:

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has signed the state budget, ending a 20-day state government shutdown.

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Gvt reaches deal

The governor of Minnesota and the state’s Republican lawmakers announced on Thursday that they had, at last, reached a deal on the state’s budget, bringing what is expected to be a swift reopening of government services.

In the end, Mark Dayton, the Democratic governor, gave up his wish to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans and agreed to a set of provisions that Republican leaders had offered him two weeks ago, just before the state closed its parks and sent 22,000 workers home. Still, Republican leaders said they, too, had not gotten all they had wished for: deeper cuts in state spending.

Instead, both sides agreed to balance the state’s approximately $35 billion budget by finding an additional $1.4 billion in revenue through some fancy accounting maneuvers — by delaying payments to local school districts (which were unhappy to learn of this) and by borrowing money against expected future payments from the tobacco industry.

via Minnesota Governor, Mark Dayton, Offers Deal to End Shutdown – NYTimes.com.

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8th Cir to hear MN campaign law

From MPR:

A federal appeals court will hear a challenge to Minnesota’s law requiring corporations to disclose their political donations.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in May. But in September, the entire court will hear the matter again.

Arguments before the full 8th Circuit will be September 21 in St. Louis

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