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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.


Sixth Judicial District Judges


Starr, Mark

District Court Judge

Counties: St. Louis

State Court Bio: View Bio

Motion Practice
  • How long do you normally allow per party for argument of non-dispositive motions? There is no specific limit. The briefs should thoroughly address all of the pertinent arguments. I would expect counsel to concisely argue the most important legal points or facts pertinent to the requested relief.
  • How long do you normally allow per party for oral argument of dispositive motions? Same as non-dispositive motions.
  • 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: NA
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: Prior to the motion hearing the attorney requesting to appear by phone should contact the court administrator to get approval to appear by phone. If approved, I normally will call the non-appearing attorney from the court room.
  • 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? Two to four weeks prior.
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? Yes
  • When are jury instructions due? At the pretrial conference.
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? Same as above.
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? Same as above.
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? Same as above.
  • 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: One week prior to the pretrial motions in limine with written arguments should be filed. At the pretrial, persons with settlement authority should be present or available directly by telephone.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: Normally, if the parties are in agreement, they can submit a stipulated amendment to the scheduling order concerning pretrial matters such as completion of discovery, medical examinations and disclosure of expert opinions.
  • For changes on the date of trial: Changes to the date of the trial, pretrial date, or motion deadlines should entail a request for a new scheduling conference during which we would discuss these matters and try to agree on a new schedule. Once a matter is set for trial the court will not agree to a date change unless there is a very good reason.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? Such things as unforeseen problems in completing discovery, significant medical/health problems of the parties or attorneys, or other unanticipated things that occur through no fault of the parties that would make it unfair not to change the trial date.
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? No
    If yes, please explain: NA
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Sit
  • 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? NA
  • 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: Noon
  • I normally give the jury a break of 15 minutes in the afternoon.
  • I normally finish court for the day at: Between 4:30 and 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: Agree depending on the circumstances.
  • Do you place a time limit on final argument? No
    If yes, If yes, what is the time limit? NA
  • When do you instruct the jury? Before and after final 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
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? All attorneys should know the proper rules of conduct and ethical behavior. If an attorney is bending or about to break the rules during court I would normally bring that to the attorney's attention during the hearing by asking the attorney to modify his or her behavior. To avoid the attorney embarrassment I may ask the attorney to approach the bench to discuss the matter privately. I would report an attorney for unethical behavior if I believed the ethical rules required it.

Judicial Districts