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News Item
New Court of Appeals Documentary Released

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has released a short documentary highlighting the origin and workload of Minnesota’s intermediate appellate court. Doing Minnesota Justice is an update to a documentary commissioned to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Court of Appeals, in 2008. The 30-minute video is a teaching tool for incoming Court of Appeals law clerks and available for educators and all students of history to stream on-demand via the Minnesota Judicial Branch YouTube Channel.
“The Court of Appeals has served the citizens of Minnesota for almost four decades. The updated Doing Minnesota Justice video will be a key tool to help Minnesotans, young and old, understand the role of our Court. This updated version breathes new life into the story of the Court of Appeals,” said Minnesota Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary.
Appellate court history buffs may recall that in the 1960s and 1970s, the number of appeals soared. As a result, the Minnesota Supreme Court became overburdened with an intense workload that was threatening the right to a meaningful first appeal for all Minnesotans. The solution was the creation of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, an intermediate court. The documentary follows the robust 1982 constitutional amendment campaign to establish the Court of Appeals. Minnesota voters overwhelmingly supported the constitutional amendment, which netted 77 percent of votes cast. The passage of the amendment established the Court of Appeals and helped ensure impartial, clear, and timely appellate decisions.
The Court of Appeals handles all first appeals except for first degree murder. This allows the Minnesota Supreme Court to spend time considering and resolving other constitutional and public policy cases. Court of Appeals’ decisions are the final ruling in about 95 percent of the approximately 2,000-2,400 appeals heard by the Court each year. Typically, around five percent of the Court’s decisions are accepted by the Minnesota Supreme Court for further review.

By law, the Court must issue a written decision, called an opinion, within 90 days of oral arguments. If no oral argument is held, a decision is due within 90 days of the case’s scheduled conference date. This deadline is the shortest imposed on any appellate court in the nation. In order to expedite justice and to make the appellate system more accessible, the Court’s 19 judges sit in three-judge panels and travel to locations throughout Minnesota to hear oral arguments. Other states frequently look to Minnesota as a model for case-processing and delay-reduction.