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.

Fourth Judicial District Judges

Vasaly, Mary

District Court Judge

Counties: Hennepin

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? 30 minutes
  • With respect to oral argument, do you prefer an attorney to not reiterate written material? No. They may highlight what they believe is most important in their submissions, both facts and arguments.
  • Do you regularly conduct hearings and motions by phone? No.  I will try to resolve discovery disputes by telephone, with brief letter submissions.  These telephone conferences are usually not transcribed and I will not decide the dispute in this informal fashion unless the parties agree that they want me to do so. 
    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:
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: I don't require any specific procedures. I prefer attorneys to focus on the most critical factual and legal issues.
  • Do you like to receive courtesy copies of motion papers? Yes. I ask that parties not submit additional memoranda not permitted by the rules.
Discovery Disputes
  • Do you require counsel to "meet and confer" before bringing discovery disputes to a hearing? Yes. I also require them to contact the court to schedule a telephone conference to see whether we can resolve the issue informally first.
  • 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? This will be addressed in the trial order.  Generally, 28 days in advance of the trial block.
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? No
  • When are jury instructions due? This will be addressed in the trial order. Generally, attorneys should exchange drafts in advance and submit disputed instructions 30 days before the trial block.
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? This will be addressed in the trial order. Generally, attorneys should exchange drafts in advance and submit disputed special verdict forms 30 days before the trial block.
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? This will be addressed in the trial order. Generally, attorneys should exchange lists 30 days before the trial block.
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? Same as above. They should be submitted in three-ring notebooks.
  • 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: Attorneys should be prepared to discuss settlement. Attorneys should be prepared to narrow the issues and discuss any evidentiary issues they are aware of at that time.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: I will allow changes for good cause. Parties should try to obtain the consent of opposing parties before approaching the court with a request.
  • For changes on the date of trial: Changes on the date of trial are disfavored. I will allow changes only due to extraordinary circumstances.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? I would allow a change only due to extraordinary circumstances. for good cause.
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 do not allow attorneys to attempt to educate the jury about the issues in the case. Voir dire is to be used to elicit information from the jury for making challenges for cause or to facilitate using peremptory challenges.  Lawyers may not ask questions that are designed primarily to educate or indoctrinate jurors as to theories, facts, strategies or problems in the case, are intended to predispose jurors to be in favor of against a party, witness or some aspect of the case, are merely arguments of the case, are hypothetical in nature, ask jurors to commit themselves to vote a certain way or take any position whatsoever before they hear the evidence, instruct the jurors as to the law in the case, attempt to present evidence, merely repeat questions already asked by the court as to which clear answers were given, ask jurors to speculate as to their reaction to certain evidence or ask jurors how certain evidence might influence their verdict.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? It is their choice.
  • 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, on the first morning before trial starts.
    If yes, how many minutes before court commences? 30 
  • I normally start jury trials at: 9:30 a.m.
  • I normally give the jury a break of 20 minutes minutes in the morning.
  • I normally take a lunch break at: 12:00 p.m.
  • I normally give the jury a break of 20 minutes 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: I may allow a limited bench conference or if more time is needed, allow argument during a break.
  • Do you place a time limit on final argument? No
    If yes, If yes, what is the time limit?
  • When do you instruct the jury? At the close of the evidence and after closing arguments.
  • 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, if they agree.
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