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

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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“Misconduct” in Employment Cases

Failing to show up at work can be fatal to an employee’s job stability and entitlement to unemployment compensation benefits, as well.  A pair of recent concurrent rulings of the Minnesota Court of Appeals reflect the obstacles that discharged employees face in obtaining these benefits.  In Luhman v. Red Wing Shoe Co., 2015 WL 134211 […]

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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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Managing I-94 Complications

We recommend that international students, visitors, workers, investors and their family members print their electronic I-94 arrival and departure records shortly after they arrive in the U.S.  The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has now fully implemented its program to automate electronic I-94s at entry.  Every foreign student, visitor, worker, investor or their […]

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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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More than 30 states, including Minnesota, recognize the right of a defendant to raise as a defense that its underlying behavior was aimed at securing favorable action by a public body.  Designed to deter SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) suits, the Minnesota law that immunizes conduct directed to obtaining favorable government action (Minn. Stat. […]

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When a Reporter Calls

Move fast. Many reporters have deadlines more demanding than those of lawyers. It could be disastrous to wait a day or even a couple hours to return a reporter’s call. Buy time. Ask about the reporter’s deadline and ask her to respect your schedule. If the deadline is in an hour, ask for 15 minutes so you […]

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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.