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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Roots of Constitutional Government: Magna Carta at 800

King John’s acquiescence to the barons’ demands on the plains of Runnymede in 1215 was but a first, halting step on the road to the rule of law.  Despite frequent challenges, its principles endured, inspired, and were adapted over 800 years to undergird modern constitutional government. This is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The […]

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When Is a Party Not a Party? Joint Litigants & Judicial Strikes

When multiple litigants with adverse interests find themselves conjoined as plaintiffs or defendants in a single civil suit they may find themselves at odds regarding the judge appointed to hear their case. Does each litigant have an individual right to strike or does the right attach to the conjoined parties as a group? Imagine you represent […]

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Conflict Minerals & the Law

East Africa is no stranger to conflict and human rights abuse and its wealth of minerals has long drawn attention from unscrupulous profiteers.  Combined efforts of governments, corporations, the United Nations, and nonprofit organizations have diminished the trade in conflict minerals but much remains to be done. On April 25, 2014, the MSBA became the first state bar […]

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Performance Reviews

Public sector employees in Minnesota may now challenge their performance reviews.  A ruling this summer by the Minnesota Supreme Court, affirming a decision of the court of appeals, held that the accuracy and completeness of such job reviews in a proceeding before the Department of Administration could be challenged in Schwanke v. Minnesota Dept. of […]

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Poisonous Fruit & Civil Forfeiture: A New Rule in Minnesota

The exclusionary rule, barring from inclusion in a criminal trial any evidence unlawfully obtained, has long been the law in Minnesota.  In 2014 we witnessed the court’s extension of the rule to civil forfeiture cases for the first time, but new legislation that took effect August 1 may have robbed the decision of much of […]

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Expungement Revisited: Minnesota’s New Second Chance Law

Many Minnesotans with a criminal record impeding their chances for employment and other opportunities can pursue a second chance by petitioning for expungement of their record. The new Second Chance Law, effective January 1, will now provide a meaningful and full remedy. Ambiguities remain for the courts to address and access to the remedy remains […]

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Bitcoin and the Like: The New Payment Method, or More?

Ever since Bitcoin was introduced in 2009, regulators and users have puzzled over the nature of this new medium and struggled to discern its risks, limitations, and fundamental nature.  A study committee of the Uniform Law Commission is now grappling with these types of regulatory questions.  Whether a uniform state law will emerge remains to […]

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Every Dog Has Its Day–In Court: Requirements of Minnesota’s Dangerous Dog Statute

Dogs and their owners in Minnesota enjoy significant statutory and procedural protections when the dangerousness of the dog is in question, but a default to local ordinances to implement the statute makes knowing the local regulations imperative for owners. Approximately 31.9 percent of households in Minnesota include at least one dog.1 While many dog owners […]

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Charitable Contributions: Gifts That Will Keep on Giving in 2015

As the end of the year approaches, thoughts turn to giving, tax planning, and being thankful for the benefits the year has brought.  Charitable giving and happiness seem to complement one another, a process that may be enhanced if you are aware of what is and is not deductible and what steps are necessary to ensure your gift does the most good. […]

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Conservation Easements: Attractive Opportunity or Risky Endeavor?

Conservation easements present an attractive option for landowners looking to gain a tax advantage while preserving and protecting treasured land, but the process of establishing one can be both costly and onerous and the financial benefits may be limited. “[C]onservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.” —Aldo […]

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