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Initial Matters - MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges
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Initial Matters

From MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges

Once a case is filed with the Court the parties are required to file a Civil Cover Sheet (formally known as an Informational Statement) pursuant to Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 111.02. There is a very specific format for this Civil Cover Sheet. After all parties have submitted Civil Cover Sheets, the Court should issue a scheduling order. Under Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 111.03 this should be between 60-90 days after a case has been filed with the Court. The Scheduling Order is the Court’s opportunity to set the tone for the litigation and establish the rules and guidelines for the case as it progresses. Some Judges may prefer an in-person scheduling conference to help accomplish this. Some Judges may conduct a telephone scheduling conference to help accomplish this. Some Judges may not have a scheduling conference at all but this is discouraged. (See also Minn. R. Pract. 112 – Joint Statement of the Case).– although it is my impression that these are not used often). From the parties’ Civil Cover Sheets and the initial scheduling conference (if one is held) the Court can learn what kind of case the Court is dealing with. Is this a case with numerous parties? Is this case where there amount in controversy is significant? Are there significant factual disputes in this case or is this case limited to legal issues (and thus could be resolved on summary judgment)? Are there complex insurance coverage issues involved in this case that should be resolved first before dealing with the substantive issues of this case? Are the attorneys involved in the case going to be helpful to the Court or a hindrance? Are there out-of-state parties/claims adjusters/attorneys? It is suggested that these topics are discussed in an initial pre-trial conference. You could also send out a questionnaire asking these questions and others to each party. After the initial scheduling conference the Court should know if a case is a complex case that will require extra attention or if the case is a simpler case that will not require as much attention. A good idea might be to place each case into one of three categories, for example: highly complex, complex, and not complex. For the highly complex cases perhaps a monthly/weekly telephone conference with the Court may be a good idea. Bates stamping documents. It is strongly suggested (especially in complex cases) that each party be required to Bates stamp all documents produced in discovery. This can assist in organization of the documents and discovery disputes as well. Bates stamping is used to place identifying labels and numbers and/or date/time-marks on images and documents as they are scanned or processed. . It is suggested that the Court require each party to exchange their attorney’s email addresses with each other. It is also encouraged that the parties agree to accept service by email. However, this is less of an issue now that e-filing is being implemented.