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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.


Ninth Judicial District Judges

Yon, Tamara

Assistant Chief Judge

Counties: Polk, Pennington, Marshall, Norman, Red Lake, Mahnomen (and sometimes Roseau)

State Court Bio: View Bio

Motion Practice
  • How long do you normally allow per party for argument of non-dispositive motions? Generally 20 minutes each side is sufficient.
  • How long do you normally allow per party for oral argument of dispositive motions? It depends. I've allowed each party to take an hour on complicated matters (if the case was separately scheduled).
  • 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: The attorney who wants to appear by phone must obtain permission first and pay the fee. If the matter is contested, I prefer the parties / lawyers to appear in person. Depending upon the county, the attorney appearing by phone sometimes initiates the call or sometimes the court does it. My court reporter records the testimony the same as in "live" hearings.
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: Since I travel around, I have attorneys copy me on the motion papers by email. Nothing else comes to mind.
  • Do you like to receive courtesy copies of motion papers? Yes
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 10 - 14 days
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? Yes
  • When are jury instructions due? I want them filed and exchanged a week before the pretrial, so that both sides and I have time to look them over. That way, we can hash them out AT the pretrial.
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? I want them filed and exchanged a week before the pretrial, so that both sides and I have time to look them over. That way, we can hash them out AT the pretrial.
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? At the time of the pretrial
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? At the time of 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: [No Answer Entered]
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: I normally allow such changes if counsel agree.
  • For changes on the date of trial: Such changes are not allowed without special written request or a motion to the court.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? If there is a request to delay the trial, and the jury has already reported, I need a pretty good excuse (and it must be something unforeseen) . . . we are underfunded as it is and having a jury report for nothing is a waste of time and money.
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: Anything that is legally out of bounds . . . to date, attorneys in my cases have not pushed that limit.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Don't care, they can do either
  • 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? Yes if there is something to discuss (doesn't always happen). Usually 15 minutes is all we need.
  • I normally start jury trials at: 9:00 a.m.
  • I normally give the jury a break of 20 minutes in the morning.
  • I normally take a lunch break at: 12:00 Noon or close to it
  • I normally give the jury a break of 20 minutes in the afternoon.
  • I normally finish court for the day at: 4:30 - 5:00 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: Engage in the discussion at the bench with the jury present.
  • 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 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? Anything that is out of bounds in the ethical rules; most concerning is lying, deceitful behavior.

Judicial Districts