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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.


Second Judicial District Judges


Guthmann, John

Assistant Chief Judge

Counties: Ramsey

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 - 30 minutes depending on the issue and the calendar
  • 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: I have used informal conferences that are not on the record. They are scheduled by the attorneys through my law clerk.
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: Attorneys should stand when addressing the court and when arguing the motion. They may speak at the counsel table or at a podium depending upon their preference. Any audio visual needs should be arranged in advance with my law clerk.
  • 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? About six weeks before trial
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? No
  • When are jury instructions due? Five days before trial
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? Five days before trial
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? Seven days before trial
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? Seven days before 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 need to be present with their attorneys and prepared to discuss settlement. For corporations and insurance companies, someone with full settlement authority must be present. Counsel should also be prepared to discuss trial logistics and any other unusual trial issues in the event the case does not settle.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: Before submitting a stipulation or contacting the judge, contact my scheduling clerk (Sharon Ellertson) to make sure your agreed upon dates do not disrupt planned timelines.
  • For changes on the date of trial: Contact my law clerk to schedule a conference call. A letter explaining the reasons for the request from both parties prior to the conference call should also be filed.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? Rarely
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: Counsel is not permitted to repeat questions asked by the court. Questions seeking a commitment from a juror as to how they might answer a special verdict question; hypotheticals; any effort to argue the case; and, self aggrandizement are not permitted.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Either is fine
  • 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? No
    If yes, how many minutes before court commences?
  • 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: I start with a side bar and if it will be lengthy or complex consider excusing the jury.
  • 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? Yes
    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? Sanctions are possible any time an attorney disobeys a written court order or court rule. Issues of contempt and reporting unethical behavior are considered case by case.

Judicial Districts