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

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 App. 07/14/2014)(unpublished).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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Cross-Examination

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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Depersonalize Advocacy

In litigation and in disputed transactional work, it is the clients, not the lawyers, who are adverse.  Some litigation and transactional documents and arguments, however, seem to suggest otherwise.  They are phrased in personal terms, as though the dispute was all about the lawyers. We all have received letters from lawyers improperly referring to us […]

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Defamation Damages

Those seeking or defending against remedies for defamation, consisting of harm to reputation, face a number of issues not encountered in other torts, as reflected in Green v. Kellen, 2014 WL 2178783 (Minn. App. 2014)(unpublished), which affirmed denial of general damages and remanded for determination of special damages. The remedy of injunctive relief generally is […]

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Human Rights Act

A recent amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act allowing a jury trial at the option of any party may affect how lawyers and their clients evaluate, negotiate, and resolve claims of discrimination and harassment under state law.  Minn. Stat. §363A.33, subd. 6, brings the Human Rights Act into conformity with federal discrimination and harassment […]

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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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Client Communications

Client communications today include social media, text messaging, and volumes of emails. Thus the odds of important client communications falling through the cracks are huge. Here are three strategies to tame the communication beast and limit potential malpractice issues: Implement a clear communication policy that informs clients of the acceptable forms of communication for your […]

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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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Word for iPad

Lots of attorneys want to be able to work with Microsoft Word (*.doc or *.docx) files on an iPad, but they don’t know what is available to allow them to do so. There are a number of programs for the iPad that are essentially the equivalent of a mobile version of Microsoft Office. Blogger Randy […]

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Property both Torrens and Abstract

Occasionally a practitioner comes across a property which includes both Torrens and abstract titles, the result of combining two or more parcels for one use. A conveyance of such lots must be recorded both with the Registrar of Titles (Torrens) and with the County Recorder (abstract).  A recorded document on one side will not constitute […]

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