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

Unemployment Compensation

One obstacle that occasionally trips up applicants for unemployment compensation benefits is the obligation that they be “actively seeking suitable employment,” as required by Minn. Stat. §268.085, subd. 1(4).  The phrase “actively seeking,” defined as “being ready, willing, and able” to accept suitable employment, applies to all seekers of unemployment benefits, regardless of the reason […]

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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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Russian Citizens Beware

A new Russian Federation law, that went into effect on August 4, 2014, requires that Russian citizens, who also have lawful permanent residence or citizenship in another country, give notice to the Russian Migration Service, unless they fit into one of a few exceptions.  Legal guardians of Russian citizens who are minors or mentally handicapped […]

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Managing Email

If “Inbox Zero” sounds good in theory but you are too busy to spend time learning a full-on system for managing your email, here is a simple way to get your email under control. You don’t need to read books, watch a video, buy anything, download anything, or get a fancy email app. All you […]

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Defamation Law

To prevail in his high-profile libel lawsuit earlier this year, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura had to overcome his characterization as a “public figure” or “public official,” which raised the bar for his claim.  His status, for defamation purposes, invoked the “actual malice” standard, requiring him to prove knowing falsity or reckless disregard of the truth […]

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Social Media Discovery

Researching the backgrounds of parties has always been an essential aspect of litigation.  Now social media can provide fodder for depositions and settlement strategies. Individuals (and companies) share a great deal of information that could be useful in litigation.  For example, Twitter “tweets” have virtually no privacy protection and can be easily googled, revealing potentially […]

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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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Digital Dexterity

Minnesota’s Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure were amended effective July 1, 2014.  The changes anticipate the digitization of all court records.  One important change: no more appendices.  There was a sense that appendices had become too long—and aren’t needed, now that the appellate courts have full electronic access to the lower court record. Without an […]

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Wrongful Death

Damages for wrongful death can be hard to obtain in Minnesota, where the law requires establishing “pecuniary loss.”  The difficulty was reflected in a recent ruling of the Minnesota Court of Appeals upholding a zero-damage jury verdict in Holtegaard v. Soo Line R.R. Co., 2014 WL 3396871 (Minn. App. 07/14/2014)(unpublished).  The jury refused to award […]

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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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Have a bit of sage advice for a newcomer to your area of practice? Send us suggestions, cautions, and tales of woe. Your colleagues will be grateful.