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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.

First Judicial District Judges

Knutson, David

District Court Judge

Counties: Dakota

State Court Bio: View Bio

Motion Practice
  • How long do you normally allow per party for argument of non-dispositive motions? A reasonable period of time as the calendar may permit
  • How long do you normally allow per party for oral argument of dispositive motions? A reasonable period of time as the calendar may permit
  • With respect to oral argument, do you prefer an attorney to not reiterate written material? No
  • Do you regularly conduct hearings and motions by phone? Yes
    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: Willing to accommodate attorneys by hearing some non-substantive or emergency disputes by telephone conference upon agreement of the attorneys.  No substantive motions and/or testimony taken over the phone.  May be on the record at request of attorneys or court, if the court will be making a decision following telephone conference.  Contact law clerk to schedule and make arrangements for telephone conference identifying issues and agreement of parties to participate in conference call.
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: Be respectful, be concise, cite to most relevant cases, anticipate and respond to opposition arguments.
  • 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? Usually set in scheduling order by court administration
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? No
  • When are jury instructions due? One week prior to trial
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? One week prior to trial
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? Two weeks prior to trial
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? Two weeks prior to trial
  • 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: Parties with settlement authority must be available at pretrial.  Outstanding issues must be identified and discussed by parties as well as settled issues.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: Parties may agree and submit stipulation and Order for courts signature.
  • For changes on the date of trial: Changes not allowed without special written request and agreement of the parties and a motion and court order.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? Agreement of the parties due to unavoidable conflicts or possible prejudice to a party.
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: If there are issues that opposing counsel objects to and the court finds prejudicial and/or irrelevant.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Preference of counsel
  • 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? 15 minutes before court starts
  • I normally start jury trials at: 9:00 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 a brief argument at the bench.  Will dismiss jury if argument is lengthy or complex.
  • 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? Before final arguments of counsel
  • 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? Yes
    Or jail? No
  • Have you ever held counsel in contempt of court? No
  • Have you ever reported an attorney for unethical behavior? Yes
  • When, if ever, would you consider issuing sanctions, formal reprimands, holding an attorney in contempt, or reporting an attorney for unethical behavior? When and if counsel intentionally and 

    egregiously 

    violates the rules of court resulting in unprofessional conduct prejudicial to the parties and their case.

Judicial Districts