Sorted by: Judicial Training

Impeaching Prior Inconsistent Statements

As most trial judges know, many attorneys do not know how to properly impeach a witness using a deposition or other prior inconsistent statement. This training update is intended to serve as a set of general principles and guidelines for trial attorneys to learn and follow. The process of impeaching a witness can be accurately […]

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Using Transcripts of Audio Recordings During Trial

5 Basic Rules Every Judge & Attorney Should Know 1. General rule:  Transcripts of audio recordings played during trial may be provided to the jury to help them understand what is said in the recording. The decision to furnish jurors with copies of a transcript to assist them in listening to the audio recording is subject […]

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Criminal Motions for Judgment of Acquittal

Motions for judgment of acquittal are made in almost all criminal cases. There are 10 basic facts that apply to all motions for acquittal and one special rule for circumstantial evidence cases that judges must follow. Failure to apply the correct analysis could result in reversal. 1 Defense motion at close of evidence: At the […]

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Evidentiary Rulings

Winning an appeal by arguing evidentiary error is exceedingly difficult—in part because rules for preserving an evidentiary ruling for appeal are not codified in one place—but here are five of the most important rules to follow to preserve an evidentiary ruling for appeal: 1. All evidentiary questions must first be presented to the trial court.  […]

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Alford Pleas

In North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160 (1970), the United States Supreme Court held that it was constitutional for a court to accept a defendant’s guilty plea, even though the defendant maintained his innocence, where the state demonstrated “a strong factual basis for the plea” and the defendant clearly expressed his […]

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OFP Hearing Testimony

It is a well-known legal axiom that an out-of-court statement made by a party-opponent is admissible against that party as nonhearsay in any subsequent legal proceeding. MN Rule Evid. 801D(2). However, a respondent’s OFP testimony cannot be used against him in his subsequent criminal trial. Minnesota law clearly states: “Any testimony offered by a respondent […]

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Here are ten rules for cross-examination every attorney should know: Consider whether to cross-examine at all. Has the witness testified to anything that injures your case? Keep it short and simple. Use short, simple, leading questions with four to six words (if possible). Convoluted questions may lead the jury to conclude you are trying to […]

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OFP & HRO Hearings

The hearing requirement for a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)  or Order for Protection (OFP) includes the right to testify on your own behalf, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to produce documents. Anderson v. Lake, 536 N.W.2d 909, 911 (Minn. App. 1995). Failure to provide a party with a full and fair hearing will result […]

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Immigration Facts Every Judge and Attorney Should Know

1. Pleading guilty to domestic assault “intent to cause fear” is no longer a “safe” plea for noncitizens. In the past, most criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors operated under the assumption that a conviction of domestic assault “intent to cause fear” in violation of Minn. Stat. §609.2242 subd. 1(1) was a “safe” plea for noncitizen defendants because […]

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Fines and Restitution

If a defendant’s sentence includes both a fine and restitution and the defendant makes one or more payments to court administration, the district court may not apply the defendant’s payments to the restitution obligation before the fine unless the district court previously issued an order that so specified. Since the early 1980s, state court administration […]

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