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

Supreme Court: Overheard while waiting for argument

Supreme Court Marshal Kim Ghilardi recently left the judicial branch to join the Minnesota County Attorneys Association. On occasion during her 11-year tenure, she would jot down the courtroom remarks of attorneys waiting for oral argument. She’s shared a few with me. You’ll quickly discern the common theme. “I’m nervous as hell.” “No water for […]

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Cameras in courtrooms

The implementation of the new cameras-in-the courtroom policy by the state courts is off to a slow start. Approved in August by the Supreme Court, the initiative went into effect in November. It removes some long-established restrictions on cameras and other video and audio recording devices in Minnesota state court proceedings, but their usage remains […]

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On the use of Esquire

What signifies knowing the Names, if you know not the Nature of Things? – Poor Richard’s Almanack The term “esquire” is a term of courtesy likely familiar to the reader of this page. It’s not as groovy as “Your Honor” or “Your Majesty” or “The Right Honourable This-or-That” or “Monsignor Fitz-Deuce-Poodle,” but few things are. […]

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Arbitration Appeals

Although described as a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), arbitration occasionally is a precursor to litigation. A pair of recent rulings in the federal and state courts reflects this tendency, and highlight some strategies and pitfalls for parties and their lawyers. Both cases upheld the arbitral awards in management-labor cases, one favorable to the […]

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Ground Zero for Overtime Compensation Disputes

Wage-and-hour claims constitute a rapidly growing genre of litigation, and this federal jurisdiction is becoming ground zero for it. A pair of recent rulings of the 8th Circuit, as well as another 8th Circuit case to be heard soon by the U.S. Supreme Court, reflect this trend as well as some peculiar aspects of it. […]

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Student Gets Schooled In Unemployment Compensation Law

As students join teachers and administrative personnel and staff in flocking back to public and private schools in Minnesota to begin the 2015-2016 academic year, they can learn from a recent ruling of the Minnesota Court of Appeals. In a mid-summer decision, the appellate court upheld denial of unemployment compensation benefits by the Department of […]

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Felony Sentencings & Probation Violation Hearings

THE ONE THING A JUDGE SHOULD NEVER SAY During a felony sentencing or probation violation hearing (PVH), judges may warn defendants that a violation of probation can have serious ramifications, but the court should never promise, announce or otherwise imply that the court will send the defendant to prison if he/she violates conditions of their […]

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Advice-of-Counsel Defense Extended

A ruling earlier this year by the Minnesota Supreme Court may have significant impact on the way lawyers interact with and advise clients in this state. In Sysdyne Corp. v. Rousslang, 860 N.W.2d 347 (Minn. 3/4/2015), the Court narrowly affirmed a ruling of the court of appeals immunizing a company from liability for tortious interference […]

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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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