Teachers and Students

A General Overview of the Minnesota Judicial Branch:

About the Supreme Court:

  • Supreme Court (PDF).  Learn about the Supreme Court, its justices, and how they do their work.
  • Supreme Court Guide to Oral Arguments (PDF, Legal-sized paper).  Read about what happens during oral arguments, learn how the justices go about making their decisions, and review information you'll want to know before observing a court session. The public is invited to attend oral arguments in St. Paul.  Check the Supreme Court calendar for oral argument times and locations. The Supreme Court is in session September - June.
  • Supreme Court Justices Throughout History.  See a chronological list of the justices who have served on the Supreme Court since Minnesota's territorial days.

About the Court of Appeals:

  • Minnesota Court of Appeals (PDF). Learn about the Court of Appeals, its judges, and how they do their work.
  • Court of Appeals Guide to Oral Arguments (PDF, Legal-sized paper). Read about what happens during oral arguments,learn how the judges go about making their decisions, and review information you'll want to know before observing a court session. The public is invited to attend oral arguments in St. Paul or at locations across the state. Check the Court of Appeals calendar for oral argument times and locations. The Court of Appeals is in session year-round.
  • Court of Appeals Judges Through History. See a chronological list of the judges who have served on the Court of Appeals since its beginning.

Informational One-Page Sheets (Topical):

The following lessons were developed specifically for use in virtual or distance learning settings, though they are also applicable when teaching in-person.  They are PDF files set up as a slide deck.  If you would prefer to receive any of the three lessons below in a PowerPoint file, please use the email link on the Contact tab in this section to request the file.
  • No Vehicles in the Park - Grades 3-8 (PDF slide deck) Objectives: To learn about the court’s role as interpreter of laws and to understand the sometimes difficult duty of considering the letter of the law as well as the intent of the law.
  • Resolving Conflicts - Grades K-5 (PDF slide deck) Objectives:  To learn the mediation process for resolving conflict and to learn the courts’ role of resolving conflicts peacefully.
  • How Laws Affect Me - Grades 3-8 (PDF slide deck) Objectives: To learn why we have laws, where laws come from, and how laws correspond to daily activities in our lives.
  • Choosing a Judge - Grades 7-12 (PDF slide deck) Objectives: To explain and evaluate the procedures used to select judges. To understand the governor’s constitutional power to appoint judges. To identify factors that are considered in judicial appointments.
The following lessons were developed as part of a curriculum-development workshop that was sponsored by the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society, with the assistance of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota State Bar Association Civic Education Committee, and the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation. Lesson development was supported in part with funds from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, which Minnesotans passed into law via the 2008 general election ballot. 
  • Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Legislators and Judges are Different - Grades 9-12 (PDF) Students will learn that judges and legislators have different roles to play in our system of government by analyzing a case study that describes the development and application of the Minnesota Move Over traffic law, which requires that drivers move over a lane when approaching a squad car involved in a traffic stop. Students will storyboard the steps taken as the law moves from the legislature through the three levels of the court system and then back to the legislature. Lesson includes a student reading and comparison chart.  
  • Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Judicial Decision Making - Grades 9-12 (PDF) This lesson describes Minnesota’s different levels of courts differentiating them by structure, function, and decision making processes. The lesson includes a brief lecture/direct instruction component as well as a guided discussion activity. The direct instruction component is appropriate for any Civics course with a Judicial Branch unit focus. Due to its content, the lesson activity as written is most suitable for older high school students in Government or Civics classes.
  • Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Elections and Impartiality - Grades 9-12 (PDF) Students will learn about judicial elections and impartiality through case studies on the exercise of First Amendment rights in judicial elections, limitations on corporate contributions, and procedures to protect impartiality. Strategies used include jigsaw of case studies and deliberation on proposed change to the Minnesota Constitution regarding judicial elections.

"Going to Court in Minnesota" Videos and Curriculum

“Going to Court in Minnesota” is a half-hour video designed to help immigrants, refugees, and others better understand the Minnesota court system and be prepared to go to court.. It is provided in four languages: English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish. Each video is subtitled in English. The program features judges, court employees, and community advocates explaining various aspects of the judicial process and cultural differences.  

Going to Court curriculum, designed for use with the video by teachers in English Language Learner classes and produced in conjunction with the Minnesota Literacy Council, is available in PDF.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch has a Speakers Bureau to provide speakers, at no cost, to schools, civic, business, and other community groups.  Minnesota judges and court personnel regularly speak to school and community groups about the Minnesota Judicial Branch, juvenile justice, how civil and criminal cases proceed, sentencing, and other topics.  In addition, judges and justices at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul host numerous tour groups throughout the year.  The Speakers Bureau can help you schedule a Judicial Center tour or find a Judicial Branch representative in your area who can best address your group. 
This effort is designed to help educate people about the Minnesota Judicial Branch and its role in their communities.  By enabling groups to hear directly from judges and court officials, it is hoped that citizens will have a better understanding of the judicial system and its function in a democracy.  
Speakers will discuss court-related subjects of special interest to the host group and will take questions from the audience or students.  All judges are bound by the Code of Judicial Conduct and are unable to address certain matters, such as pending litigation, or to give legal advice. 
It is recommended that your request for a speaker be made directly to the Court Information Office Speakers’ Bureau by submitting the request form.  Please contact Lissa Finne, Communications Specialist, at (651) 297-5532 or Lissa.Finne@courts.state.mn.us with any questions.

Meet Your Court

"Meet Your Court" was a weekly public affairs program and community service of Hennepin County District Court / Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota.  This 30-minute broadcast was launched to increase public understanding of the judiciary, the least-understood branch of government, and related issues.

Guests included Minnesota governors, first ladies, Supreme Court justices, and Court of Appeals judges; state and federal trial court judges and legislators; local elected officials, court managers, prosecutors, public defenders, attorneys in private practice, police chiefs, probation officers, and journalists; and representatives of government agencies, and public interest, social service and community organizations, and others.               
There are 158 episodes of "Meet Your Court," produced from 2000-2008.  Judge Kevin S. Burke hosted 150 episodes.  The producer was Ken Bergstrom.  The last six episodes were co-produced with the Minnesota Judicial Branch.  

Law in Action

Also available is an earlier public access show, Law in Action, which was hosted by Doris Simonett, wife of former Supreme Court Justice John Simonett, and John Kanniainen. The Law in Action show aired from 1989 to 1997, included more than 180 episodes, and was the precursor to Meet Your Court. Interviewed on the show were people from throughout the judicial system including district court judges, Court of Appeals of judges and Supreme Court justices.  

Both shows are available on the Minnesota Digital Law Library.

The District Court Show

Judge Stephen Halsey, now-retired Tenth Judicial District Court judge, created the monthly program that educates the public about the judicial system and includes more than 100 episodes. The host of the program interviews other judges, attorneys, police officials, as well as interested citizens.  The show is currently being hosted by Assisant Chief Judge Elizabeth Strand and Judge Francis Greene, III.

Visit Quad Cities Community Television's website for access to "The District Court Show."

No upcoming events at this time.

Lissa Finne
Communications Specialist
Court Information Office
Minnesota Judicial Center
State Court Administrator's Office
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone: (651) 297-5532

About the Program

The Minnesota Court of Appeals opens up the courtroom doors as an educational opportunity for teachers and students to observe oral arguments and meet with the judges. The court hears cases at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, and in various courthouses across the state.

The court invites you to come to the courthouse and learn more about the court and its judges.

To submit an inquiry about participating in the program, please use the contact form.

At the Minnesota Judicial Center

The Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul is home to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The court hears arguments year round in courtrooms 100 and 200, which each seat approximately 20 visitors. Overflow viewing via a display monitor is also available in a nearby conference room.

The Minnesota Judicial Center is next door to the State Capitol, and within walking distance to the Minnesota History Center. A visit to the Judicial Center could easily be paired with a visit to either location.

Please note that beginning January 1, 2022, all visitors to the Minnesota Judicial Center will be required to pass through security screening.  

In Greater Minnesota

The Court of Appeals hears cases in district court courtrooms in Greater Minnesota during the months of April through November. Hearing locations regularly include, as needed:
  • Rochester, Owatonna, New Ulm – Thursday of first full week of each month
  • Duluth – Thursday of second full week of each month
  • Moorhead, St. Cloud – Thursday of third full week of each month
  • Brainerd – Wednesday of first full week of each month
  • Marshall – Wednesday or Thursday of first full week of each month
The court travels to other locations as needed.


In preparation for a visit to the courtroom, teachers and students will be provided with an informational brochure, “A Guide to Oral Arguments at the Minnesota Court of Appeals”; links to biographies of the judges on the panel; and the written arguments, called briefs, for each case.

Following the oral arguments, the panel of three judges will visit with students in courtroom.

Available seating will be limited, depending on the location of the hearings. Teachers and students may be required to go through a security screening before entering some courthouses. Electronic devices must be turned off while visitors are in the courtroom.
Oral arguments are timed, and last 35 minutes. The Court of Appeals typically hears oral arguments in 3-6 cases in a row. Each group participating in the program will have the opportunity to observe one or more oral arguments. Participants should plan for a visit of approximately 2 hours.

The Court of Appeals is not able to provide transportation to and from the courthouse.