Minnesota Court of Appeals

The Minnesota Court of Appeals provides the citizens of Minnesota with prompt and deliberate review of all final decisions of the trial courts, state agencies, and local governments. As the error-correcting court, the Court of Appeals handles most of the appeals, which allows the Minnesota Supreme Court to spend time resolving difficult constitutional and public policy cases.


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Photo of the members of the Minnesota Court of Appeals

ANNOUNCEMENT

The Court of Appeals’ Standing Order on Paper Copies of Briefs has been updated.
Effective August 1, 2019, paper copies of e-filed briefs must include a signed certification
including the following language:

I hereby certify that the content of the accompanying paper brief and addendum or addenda, if applicable, is identical to the electronic version filed and served, except for any binding, colored cover, or colored back, and I understand that any corrections or alterations to a brief filed electronically must be separately served and filed in the form of an errata sheet.


About the Court

The Minnesota Court of Appeals, which began on November 1, 1983, provides the citizens of Minnesota with prompt and deliberate review of all final decisions of the trial courts, state agencies, and local governments. As the error-correcting court, the Court of Appeals handles most of the appeals, which allows the Minnesota Supreme Court to spend time resolving difficult constitutional and public policy cases.

Court of Appeals’ decisions are the final ruling in about 95 percent of the 2,000 to 2,400 appeals every year. Typically, about five percent of the Court’s decisions are accepted by the Minnesota Supreme Court for further review.

The Court reviews appeals in a timely manner. By law, the Court must issue a decision 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.

As part of the Court’s effort to expedite justice and to make access to the appellate system less burdensome and expensive, the Court’s 19 judges sit in three-judge panels and travel to locations throughout Minnesota to hear oral arguments.

With the assistance of an electronic case management system, the Court monitors the progress of every appeal to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in processing cases or releasing decisions. The Court demonstrates the value of aggressive, hands-on management of its cases. Other states frequently look to Minnesota as a model for case-processing and delay-reduction.

Visit the Resources tab above to access court rules, practice guides, standing orders, and educational materials.
 


Court of Appeals Calendar for August 27 - October 10, 2019 (last updated 8/16/19)

Court of Appeals Judges

Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary

Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary Court of Appeals

Judge Renee L. Worke

Judge Renee L. Worke Court of Appeals

Judge Kevin G. Ross

Judge Kevin G. Ross Court of Appeals

Judge Heidi S. Schellhas

Judge Heidi S. Schellhas Court of Appeals

Judge Francis J. Connolly

Judge Francis J. Connolly Court of Appeals

Judge Matthew E. Johnson

Judge Matthew E. Johnson Court of Appeals

Judge Michelle A. Larkin

Judge Michelle A. Larkin Court of Appeals

Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman

Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman Court of Appeals

Judge John R. Rodenberg

Judge John R. Rodenberg Court of Appeals

Judge Carol Hooten

Judge Carol Hooten Court of Appeals

Judge Denise D. Reilly

Judge Denise D. Reilly Court of Appeals

Judge Peter M. Reyes, Jr.

Judge Peter M. Reyes, Jr. Court of Appeals

Judge Lucinda E. Jesson

Judge Lucinda E. Jesson Court of Appeals

Judge Tracy M. Smith

Judge Tracy M. Smith Court of Appeals

Judge Diane B. Bratvold

Judge Diane B. Bratvold Court of Appeals

Judge James B. Florey

Judge James B. Florey Court of Appeals

Judge Jeanne M. Cochran

Judge Jeanne M. Cochran Court of Appeals

Judge Randall J. Slieter

Judge Randall J. Slieter Court of Appeals


Court of Appeals Judges Through History: See a chronological list of the judges who have served on the Court of Appeals since its beginning. 
 
  1. Appellant files appeal after district court judgment
  2. District court forwards case files to the Court of Appeals
  3. Appellant and respondent file briefs
  4. Three-judge panel hears oral arguments
  5. Court of Appeals issues opinion
  6. Parties may petition Supreme Court for further review
How many cases does the Court of Appeals handle?
More than 2,200 appeals each year from:
  • District court decisions (except first-degree murder)
  • Administrative agencies (except Tax and Workers’ Compensation courts)
Where do oral arguments occur?
  • Year-round in courtrooms 100 and 200 in the Minnesota Judicial Center, St. Paul.
  • At various Minnesota locations to keep litigation costs low and to ensure access to justice.
What is the standard of review?
The standard of review defines the manner in which each issue is reviewed, delineates the boundaries of appellate argument, and often determines the outcome on appeal. When deciding a case, the first task of an appellate court is to identify the applicable standard of review. The Minnesota Court of Appeals conscientiously identifies and applies a specific standard of review to each issue before the court.
 
What happens during oral arguments?
  • Marshal calls court to order; audience stands. During oral arguments, the marshal maintains courtroom decorum and ensures that attorneys adhere to time limitations.
  • Three judges enter the courtroom. Court of Appeals cases are heard in three-judge panels. Before oral arguments, judges have prepared by reading “briefs,” or written arguments submitted by the parties involved. The judges sit in order of seniority, with the presiding judge in the middle.
  • Appellant’s attorney argues the case. The attorney representing the appealing party also answers judges’ questions about his/her legal argument. Fifteen minutes are allotted.
  • Respondent's attorney argues the case.  Respondent's attorney also answers judges' questions. Fifteen minutes are allotted.
  • Appellant's attorney has five minutes to respond.  This is called "rebuttal."
  • Judges confer and decide the outcome of the case. One judge is assigned to draft the Court’s “opinion” or decision.
  • Judges draft and revise the opinion. The draft opinion is circulated among the members of the three-judge panel. A judge on the panel may also write a “concurring opinion” – agreeing with the decision but for different reasons – or a “dissenting opinion” – disagreeing with the majority opinion. Once the judges agree on a final draft, the opinion is circulated to the entire Court of Appeals for comments.
  • The final opinion is filed with Clerk of Appellate Courts. The opinion is also released to public via the Judicial Branch Website. The Court of Appeals releases its opinion within 90 days of oral arguments.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals Help Topics answer some of the frequently asked questions about appeals and petitions to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  This information is provided for the purpose of helping parties without an attorney.  Read all information carefully before filing an appeal or petition, and fill out all required forms completely.

Overview
Civil Appeal
Criminal Appeal
Postconviction Appeal
Eviction Appeal
Unemployment Benefits Appeal
Proof of Service
Family Law Mediation
 
The Court of Appeals hears oral arguments on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings throughout the year.   The 19-judge court hears each oral argument in a three-judge panel. 
 
Oral arguments may be scheduled for appeals where all parties have lawyers and where the lawyers request oral argument. At oral argument, the attorneys appear before the three-judge panel to explain their arguments and answer the judges’ questions. Learn more about the stages of an appeal.
Attend Oral Arguments at the Minnesota Judicial Center
Oral arguments before the Minnesota Court of Appeals are open to the public.  The Court of Appeals hears oral arguments at the Minnesota Judicial Center throughout the year.  Most oral arguments occur on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings. Please view the Court of Appeals Calendar for information about upcoming oral arguments. 
 
The Minnesota Judicial Center courtrooms have limited seating.  Each courtroom has approximately 20 seats audience area of the courtroom, which includes seating for attorneys involved in oral arguments and their clients.  Seating is first-come, first-served. Visitors must sit in the audience area of the courtroom. Standing is prohibited during oral arguments. If the courtroom is full, court staff will set up overflow seating where visitors may watch the oral arguments remotely.

If you have a group interested in viewing oral arguments or meeting with Court of Appeals judges at a location in Greater Minnesota, please email the Court of Appeals "Class in the Courtroom" program via the online contact form.
 
Guide to Oral Arguments at the Minnesota Court of Appeals
Rules of Decorum for the Minnesota Judicial Center
Directions to the Minnesota Judicial Center
Traveling Oral Arguments

Court of Appeals panels hear oral arguments in locations throughout Greater Minnesota from April through November, to ensure access to the court throughout the state.  Traveling to hear appeals helps keep the Court connected to the people and communities throughout the state, and reduces travel costs for parties. Like oral arguments held at the Minnesota Judicial Center, oral arguments at locations around the state are open to the public. 
 
Along with traveling oral arguments, the judges on a traveling panel often schedule educational events with local school groups or civic organizations.  If you have a group interested in viewing oral arguments or meeting with Court of Appeals judges at a location in Greater Minnesota, please email the Court of Appeals "Class in the Courtroom" program via the online contact form.
 
In addition to traveling panels, the Court of Appeals offers oral argument via interactive video throughout the year.

Listen to Archived Oral Arguments Online
Audio recordings of oral arguments held before the Minnesota Court of Appeals are available on the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.

These recordings are available in a searchable, online database of oral arguments, which allows users to access all recorded oral arguments from January 2019 to the present.

Courtroom Decorum
Please help us maintain decorum.
Issues of statewide importance are decided based on oral arguments. Therefore, it is critical that the judges and attorneys work without distraction. The following guidelines apply during oral arguments:
  • Sit in the audience area of the courtroom. Standing is prohibited during oral arguments.
  • Remain silent during the proceedings.
  • You may not eat, drink, chew gum or use tobacco in the courtroom.
  • Remove hats before entering the courtroom.
  • No demonstrations are allowed, including signs, banners or displays of symbols.
  • Electronic recording devices are prohibited, except when permission is given to the media
  • Turn off all cell phones before entering the courtroom. 
  • Any distracting activity will be grounds for removal from the courtroom.
Visitors to the Minnesota Judicial Center must also comply with the Minnesota Judicial Center Rules of Decorum.
What Happens During Oral Arguments
  • Marshal calls court to order; audience stands. During oral arguments, the marshal maintains courtroom decorum and ensures that attorneys adhere to time limitations.
  • Three judges enter the courtroom.  The judges sit in order of seniority, with the presiding judge in the middle.
  • Appellant’s attorney argues the case and answers the judges’ questions about his or her legal argument. Fifteen minutes are allotted. See Minn. App. Spec. R. Prac. 2.
  • Respondent’s attorney argues and answers judges’ questions. Fifteen minutes are allotted.
  • Rebuttal by appellant’s attorney. The appellant’s attorney has five minutes to respond to the opposing party’s arguments.
  • Learn about the stages of an appeal and what happens after oral argument.
Court Forms