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

Please Note Changes to the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure, Effective July 1, 2016:

Effective July 1, 2016, several changes to the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure took effect. In particular, parties should take note of new length limits and formatting and signature requirements for documents filed with the appellate courts; new recusal rules for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals; and a new provision requiring citation to Document Index Numbers when referencing part of the district court record.

Also effective July 1, 2016, electronic filing is now mandatory in the appellate courts for all attorneys; electronic filing is optional for self-represented parties.

Parties are advised to read the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure and the Standing Orders Regarding Copies of Briefs for additional information.

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.
Minnesota Court of Appeals
Minnesota Judicial Center (MJC) 
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Court of Appeals Judges

Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary

Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary Court of Appeals

Judge Randolph W. Peterson

Judge Randolph W. Peterson 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 Michael L. Kirk

Judge Michael L. Kirk 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

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.

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