JAMS-Bruner-MN-Bench-Bar-460x90

Members

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

Messerich, Kathryn D.

Chief Judge

Counties: Dakota

State Court Bio: View Bio

Contact with chambers:

  • Set forth your preferred method to contact chambers (telephone, e-mail, etc.). e-mail toSheree Mazzarese (Law Clerk) or Nancy Meyer (Court Reporter)
  • To whom may attorneys direct scheduling/logistical questions? Sheree Mazzarese or Nancy Meyer
  • To whom may attorneys direct substantive questions?  Sheree Mazzarese

Motion practice:

  • Set forth your practices and procedures for scheduling motion hearings. Must be scheduled through Law Clerk or Court Reporter
  • Identify any type of motion for which you do not require a hearing. Very limited -- Stipulations on deadlines and scheduling orders except for those that change a trial date.
  • Do you accept telephone calls from attorneys to rule on discovery disputes that occur during depositions? Disfavored but will take if feasible.
  • How much time do you allot for motion hearings? 30 minutes -- Attorneys should request a longer time slot if necessary
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attending a hearing by telephone or video conference. Attorneys should arrange and schedule through law clerk or court reporter
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to discovery motions. Must delineate good faith effort to resplve the dispute. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to stipulations of the parties, including stipulations for protective orders. These can be sent to my law clerk or court reporter.
  • Do you have particular requirements or procedures relating to requests to amend the scheduling order? Call clerk to give us a heads up. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to default proceedings. If you wish to proceed by default, contact my court reporter or law clerk.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to handling emergency motions.  Call law clerk. 

Written submissions:

  • Do you want to receive paper courtesy copies of the parties’ written submissions? If you do, set forth the number and preferred format of courtesy copies and identify any document type you do not want to receive. No courtesy copies if e-filed. If you are referring to a particular case frequently or a particular exhibit -- bring a copy for the court to the motion hearing.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for requests to deviate from the requirements of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts.  Must ask in advance, give notice to opposing party/counsel. Please don't assume. 

In-court proceedings:

  • Identify what technology you use in the courtroom and state whether you prefer a particular electronic format. All I ask if that the attorneys using technology can assure that it will work in our courtrooms. We do not have assigned courtrooms in Dakota County. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attorney’s use of technology in the courtroom and during trial. Make sure you are familiar with what we have in Dakota County -- contact court administration if you have questions about whether technology is compatible.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to the submission of additional legal authority or other materials at or after oral argument. Must have permission and a reson why not included in original submissions.
  • Do you permit parties to bifurcate oral argument so different attorneys address different legal issues?  Yes.

Pretrial procedures:

  • Describe your preferred procedures for pretrial settlement conferences, including the timing of such conferences, persons who must attend, whether persons may attend by telephone or video conference, and how you participate in settlement discussions. For assigned cases, I prefer to have a pretrial for motions in limine, jury instructions and any final settlement discussions. Like to have pretrial 2 to 3 weeks before trial date.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for handling motions in limine.  Schedule to be heard at pretrial. 

Trial:

  • What is your schedule for a typical trial day? 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm with mid-morning break.  May alter scheduled to accommodate witnesses.  
  • Set forth your voir dire procedures. I ask general questions first.
    Will also ask any questions the attorneys request that the court asks.
    If a jury questionnaire is requested must submit in advance. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to courtroom decorum, including movement in the courtroom, use of a podium, whether attorneys should sit or stand, and how to address witnesses. Attorneys should stand for examination and objections.
    Podiums for voir dire, openings and closings are preferred but not mandated.
    Surnames for witnesses -- no undue familiarity.
  • Do you impose time limits with respect to opening statements and closing arguments?  No.
  • Identify your practices with respect to the use of technology in the courtroom during trial. Attorneys need to be able to troubleshoot their own technology.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to marking and using exhibits. Follow the Minnesota Trial Notebook procedures. Talk to my law clerk ahead of time and bring a copy of your exhibits for the court and law clerk to follow.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for handling objections. No speaking objections in front of the jury. Ask to approach if you are inclined to say anything more than "Objection" and the legal basis. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to the use of deposition testimony. Follow the rules. If you use a deposition, make sure the original transcript is offered as a court exhibit for purposes of appellate review.
  • May attorneys obtain daily transcripts during trial? If so, what procedure should attorneys follow? Make arrangements with my court reporter.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attorney requests to contact jurors at the conclusion of trial.  I advise the jurors that they may be contacted by the attorneys or representatives of their firms and that they are free to speak with them if they choose.

Other matters:

  • Set forth any other preferences, practices, or procedures attorneys and parties may find helpful.  Be prepared and professional. Have a legal basis for your arguments and objections. Be on time and ready to go.

    Audio recordings should be accompanied by a transcript.

    Don't talk over each other. Don't interrupt the Court and no surprises or last minute drama.

    Bring a list of technical terms for my court reporter if the case involves scientific or medical terminology.

Judicial Districts