20 Things you Didn’t Know About The Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Supreme Court

Each state in the United States has its high court. The Supreme Court is the highest in the land. It hears cases that set legal precedents that attorneys often refer to when representing their clients in civil and other types of courts. The Minnesota Supreme court is situated in the Minnesota State Capitol where it hears cases in chambers. Some cases are also heard in the Minnesota Judicial Center. the Minnesota Supreme Court does an exceptional job of maintaining transparency and interacting with the public. If you’re a student of the law in Minnesota, you might find these 20 things you didn’t know about The Minnesota Supreme Court of interest.

1. The Minnesota Supreme Court was established before statehood occurred

According to Wikipedia, the first Minnesota Supreme Court was formed in the year 1849. It happened during an era when Minnesota was still legally defined as a territory rather than a state. Zachary Taylor was the President of the United States at the time. Minnesota would not become a state for another nine years.

2. The Minnesota Supreme Court had a small panel

The first Minnesota Supreme Court was comprised of just three members. In 1849, Zachary Taylor appointed three judges to the panel to hear cases. The court had humble beginnings, and it underwent a restructuring in 1858 as Minnesota changed its status from a territory to statehood.

3. The first Minnesota Supreme Court heard all appeals

During the early years of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the legal system worked much differently than it does now. Until 1983, cases from the Minnesota District Courts that were appealed had no venue for hearing other than the Minnesota Supreme Court. This remained the process until 1983 when the Minnesota Court of Appeals was formed to hear the majority of these cases. The development of the appeals court reduced the number of appeals cases handled by the Minnesota Supreme Court. It cut the number of appeals cases heard from 1,800 to 900, reducing the workload by half.

4. The Minnesota Supreme Court handles some appeals directly

Although the Minnesota Supreme Court has deferred about half of the appeals cases heard, some of them are referred directly to the highest court in the state. Most of the appeals cases heart by the Supreme Court include those involving worker’s compensation, first-degree murder, and tax-related cases. The weight of the cases determines their priority. The court hears the highest-priority cases with the greatest potential for impact upon the legal system and rulings.

5. Appointment of judges has changed

The way that judges are appointed to the seats of the Minnesota Supreme Court is different than it was during the early years. The President of the United States formerly appointed these positions. Through the evolution of the legal and political system, there are two ways that judges make it to the Supreme Court for the state. They are chosen through a nonpartisan election, under normal circumstances, and when a judge’s term expires. if a midterm vacancy occurs, the judge is appointed by the governor of the state.

6. The Minnesota Supreme Court has limited Terms

There is a limited amount of time that each judge must observe when serving on the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Court is located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, authorized by the Minnesota Constitution. The length of a term for Minnesota Supreme Court judges is six years. Each judge is bound by mandatory retirement laws enforced by the state at the age of 70. There are seven positions within the Minnesota Supreme Court.

7. A Vikings player sat on the Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota residents are fans of their football team. In 1992, a unique event happened on the Minnesota Supreme Court. For the first time in the high court’s history, a former player for the Minnesota Vikings team was elected to one of the seven seats on the panel. Alan Page was the retired Viking football player that sat on the seat until 1998.

8. The first Native American justice was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court

The Minnesota Supreme Court has been the venue for several firsts and seconds. In addition to having a former NFL player on the panel, the second Native American justice was elected to one of the open seats. In 2016, Anne McKeig, who was a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe was elected to one of the seven seats. It is also worth noting that during McKreig’s tenure on the Minnesota Supreme court, the majority of the panel was women. This term marked the second time that the event occurred in history. The first happened in 1991.

9. Minnesota Supreme Court Justices bring in six figures

Appointments or elections to the Minnesota Supreme Court are weighty decisions. Each of the seven judges on the panel holds responsibilities for making impactful decisions that will have a large effect on nuances of the law. They’re responsible for decisions that will set precedents for lower courts to consider and even follow, often for years to come. The judges on the panel are well-paid with annual salaries that are in the six-figure range. Associate justices make an average of $186,692, while a Supreme court Chief Justice is compensated with $205,362 per year. While it may seem like a handsome sum of money, it’s not as much as some other attorneys make working for prestigious law firms.

10. The Minnesota Supreme Court supports the constitutional rights of the citizens

According to Mn Courts, the Minnesota Supreme Court is concerned with cases that provide challenges concerning the constitutional rights of people who live in the State of Minnesota. The appeals that are heard involved possible infractions of human rights. It is the job of the justices to investigate all allegations of violations of constitutional rights that may have occurred and render a ruling. When evidence is provided to prove that violations have occurred, previous rulings may be overturned, which in turn sets a legal precedent for similar cases heard in lower courts. The rulings set a precedent for Minnesota trial courts.

11. The Minnesota Supreme Court administers four committees

There are four committees administered by the Minnesota Supreme Court. These include a Legal Services Advisory Committee, also referred to as LSAC. They also oversee the Alternative Dispute Resolution Ethics Board, the Minnesota IOLTA Program, and the Implementation Committee for the Proposed Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project.

12. The Minnesota Supreme Court takes their show on the road

The members of the Minnesota Supreme Court are interested in providing education to kids in the public school system. They travel two times per year to high schools all across the state of Minnesota in an outreach program that teaches the students about the court system. It’s the ope that the effort will result in increased confidence and trust in the state’s judiciary system.

13. Tours of the Minnesota Supreme Court are offered

School officials may contact the Minnesota Supreme Court to arrange for school tours. The offer is also open to local community groups. Justices regularly host tour groups to educate them about the Minnesota state judicial system. Court justices also engage in regular speaking engagements to community groups and public schools.

14. The Minnesota Supreme Court provides videos for the public

The Minnesota Supreme Court partnered with Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota viewing channel to provide a variety of video options to help educate the public about the judicial system. The video choices provide a wealth of information including advice for young people, some of the most memorable cases in the history of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and more. The video content provides overviews of the cases that helped shape Minnesota law applications.

15. The Minnesota Supreme Court offers videos featuring individual justices

The title of the video series is “In Their Own Words: The Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court.” This is a collection of videos that feature individual justices speaking to the public in their own words. They discuss their background to help you become familiar with them, and talk about cases they found to be unique or impactful. They also offer advice to the public. A video is available from each of the seven current justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court panel.

16. The Minnesota Supreme Court let the public in to hear arguments

You may attend the oral arguments of the Minnesota Supreme Court as a concerned member of the public. Listening to these arguments is strongly recommended for aspiring attorneys. Students engaged in the study of the law benefit from the knowledge. The Supreme Court hears these arguments from September through June during the first two weeks of each month. The oral arguments hearings in two locations. This public offering includes the Minnesota Judicial Center and the State Capital building.

17. You can also view oral arguments online

Oral arguments heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court have streamed life online for public viewing. You may also view and listen to oral arguments online archived. The Minnesota Supreme Court provides information about what happens during and after oral arguments on its website, as well as an educational piece on courtroom decorum.

18. The terms of Minnesota Supreme Court Justices were shortened.

According to the Minnesota State Law Library, the original Minnesota Supreme Court terms were set at seven years per justice, with mandatory retirement at age 70. The term duration began in 1858 when the first court convened. Through time, the term duration was changed. In 1881, the term was changed from seven years to six. The six-year term is still in effect today.

19. The Minnesota Supreme Court has a rich history

The history of the Minnesota Supreme Court is brimming with things that very few people in the general public are aware of. It’s come a long way since first established before the territory was even a state. For example, an Act was passed that created two additional commissioners in 1913. The act that increased the numbers got abolished in 1930. They didn’t lower the number of associate justices. Instead, they added two more seats to the Supreme Court. Various acts passed, some increasing the minimum number of justices from six to nine, then finally, an amendment was made that reduced the number of justices to seven.

20. There have been 95 justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court

A complete history of the Minnesota Supreme Court has been maintained with information about each justice that has served. The list goes back to the first three justices from 1849 when Minnesota was still a territory. Aaron Goodrich served as Chief Justice from 1849 through 1851. David Cooper and Bradley B. Meeker served from 1849 through 1853. In 1851, Jerome Fuller became the second Chief Justice serving for one year. Henry Z. Hayner was appointed CJ in 1852, serving for one year. William H. Welch served as Chief Justice from 1853 through 1858. All these names along with the others have been archived, along with their biographies for law students studying the history of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Final thoughts

The Minnesota Supreme Court has a long and storied history. Review for law students is far from dry or uninteresting. They kept records from before the first justice rendered a decision. These are detailed and informative. The archives paint a picture of the evolution of the judicial system as it grew in Minnesota since its inception. Although the judgeships are weighty, the justices are also human beings with fun sides. They’re people just like the rest of us, and once in a while, they even have a little fun while performing their official duties. Some justices have portrayed their predecessors on Statehood Day, dressing up in period clothing. The Minnesota Supreme Court justices have made a habit of doing what they can to educate the public about the Minnesota judicial system. They travel occasionally and speak at school and community events when invited.

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