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Civil Litigation Section

Judges' Courtroom Preferences

In Minnesota, there are currently 293 district court judges who preside over matters in ten judicial districts. While the Minnesota Rules of Court provide attorneys with significant information applicable to court proceedings, each judge may have his or her individual preferences with respect to motion practice and courtroom conduct.

In an effort to assist attorneys who may be appearing before a judge for the first time, the MSBA Civil Litigation Section Governing Council provided all district court judges with a brief questionnaire. The responses that we received are organized here by judicial district and the judge’s name. We hope you find these responses to be helpful in your preparation for district court appearances.

For information about this project or to report an error in any judicial directory listing, contact Jennifer Carter, MSBA staff liaison to the Civil Litigation Section.


Fifth Judicial District Judges

Dietrich, Michelle

Assistant Chief Judge

Counties: Lyon

State Court Bio: View Bio

Motion Practice
  • How long do you normally allow per party for argument of non-dispositive motions? 15 minutes
  • How long do you normally allow per party for oral argument of dispositive motions? 15 minutes unless counsel has requested additional time for the hearing at the time of scheduling along with an explanation as to why the additional time is required
  • With respect to oral argument, do you prefer an attorney to not reiterate written material? Yes
  • Do you regularly conduct hearings and motions by phone? No
    If yes, please describe the procedure you would like attorneys to use to do so, including how testimony is to be transcribed and who puts the teleconference together: [No Answer Entered]
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: 1. Timeliness: Be on time and be mindful of time constraints--I will limit your time if you are going over the time allotted. 2. Decorum--Do not interrupt each other or speak over each other or me. Do not address each other or identify parties/witnesses by first names. Be responsive to my questions--if it's a "yes" or "no" question, give me your answer first, then your explanation. 3. Preparation--When I say I've read the file, I have done so (I will tell counsel if I have not reviewed the file/submissions) and there is no need to regurgitate the written submissions--just highlight the pertinent points. Tell me at the outset of the hearing if any of the issues are withdrawn or are not contested. Make sure that all submissions are timely filed.
  • Do you like to receive courtesy copies of motion papers? No
Discovery Disputes
  • Do you require counsel to "meet and confer" before bringing discovery disputes to a hearing? Yes
  • Will you accept telephone calls from attorneys to rule on discovery disputes that occur during the course of a deposition? Yes
Pretrial Procedures
  • When do you normally set the pretrial in relation to the trial? 2-3 weeks prior to trial
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? Yes
  • When are jury instructions due? 10 days before the pretrial
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? 10 days before the pretrial
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? 10 days before the pretrial
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? 10 days before the pretrial
  • Do you discuss settlement of the case with the parties at the time of the pretrial? Yes
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys to follow at the time of the pretrial: Make sure you've read my scheduling order and know what you are required to do prior to the pretrial.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: May be submitted by stipulation with a proposed order. If I have concerns about the changes, I will schedule a chambers conference (attorneys can appear by phone).
  • For changes on the date of trial: Attorney requesting the continuance should file a motion stating why the continuance is required. Last minute requests are not favored. I generally handle these requests by phone in chambers in which case the attorney making the request is responsible for arranging the conference call.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? Generally illness or family emergency.
Civil Jury Trials
  • Do you perform preliminary voir dire? Yes
  • Do you place a time limit on voir dire by counsel? No
  • Is there subject matter you will not permit counsel to ask of the jury? Yes
    If yes, please explain: I would not allow questions regarding prejudicial or improper matters and questions should be limited to a juror's qualifications to serve.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Sit
  • Do you require counsel to be behind counsel table unless counsel has a specific reason to approach a witness? Yes
  • Do you normally require counsel to meet each morning with the court before the jury comes into the courtroom? Yes
    If yes, how many minutes before court commences? 30
  • I normally start jury trials at: 8:30 a.m.
  • I normally give the jury a break of 15 minutes in the morning.
  • I normally take a lunch break at: 12:00 Noon
  • I normally give the jury a break of 15 minutes in the afternoon.
  • I normally finish court for the day at: 4:30 p.m.
  • Do you permit jurors to:
    Take Notes: Yes
    Keep notes during deliberation? Yes
    Ask the witnesses questions? No
  • If counsel asks to approach to argue a ruling, do you generally: Allow them to do so. If it's brief, I use the white noise and allow arguments at the bench. If it's going to take longer, then I normally take a recess.
  • Do you place a time limit on final argument? No
    If yes, If yes, what is the time limit? [No Answer Entered]
  • When do you instruct the jury? After final argument
  • After argument and instructions, do you:
    Require counsel to be available by telephone? Yes
    Request that counsel remain at the courthouse during deliberations of the jury? No
    Take a verdict without counsel present and inform them after the verdict by telephone of the result? Yes
Sanctions of Counsel
  • Have you ever sanctioned counsel with imposition of a fine? No
    Or jail? No
  • Have you ever held counsel in contempt of court? No
  • Have you ever reported an attorney for unethical behavior? No
  • When, if ever, would you consider issuing sanctions, formal reprimands, holding an attorney in contempt, or reporting an attorney for unethical behavior?

Judicial Districts