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.

Tenth Judicial District Judges

Meslow, Douglas B.

Assistant Chief Judge

Counties: Anoka

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? 20 minutes
  • 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: [No Answer Entered]
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: I'm OK with attorneys standing or sitting during argument, whichever makes them more comfortable. I have read the materials before the hearing, so it is important that the attorney not repeat everything in the brief. I will often start by asking questions based upon the materials submitted, before any argument by the attorneys. I will then give the attorneys a chance to emphasize their key arguments or expand on points based upon the questions I have asked.
  • 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? Approximately 60 days
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? No
  • When are jury instructions due? 2 weeks before trial
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? 2 weeks before trial
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? 2 weeks before trial
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? 2 weeks 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: Come prepared to discuss the case with estimates of the time of trial and an indication of any motions or unusual issues the court should be prepared to address before trial begins. Plan to discuss settlement; I won't force an agreement, but I do expect genuine exploration of settlement.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: I will routinely approve if a written stipulation is signed by all parties.
  • For changes on the date of trial: I expect a stipulation agreed by all parties and a good reason, or a request by one or more parties and a VERY good reason.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? If the attorneys believe that an agreement is likely if given more time, I am likely to postpone the trial date. If the request is due to a scheduling conflict for an attorney or witness, my likelihood of granting the request will depend on the reason and the timeliness of the request, as well as the position of opposing counsel. If the request is due to lack of diligence in pursuing discovery, I am unlikely to grant the request. If a previous request has been granted, I am very unlikely to grant a second request.
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: Questions must be designed to explore the fitness of jurors to serve--not education of jurors on the facts or law pertaining to the case. I will interrupt counsel if I believe improper questions are being asked during voir dire.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Either is acceptable, although counsel seem more comfortable sitting.
  • 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? 15 - 30 minutes, depending on whether there are issues to discuss outside the jury's presence.
  • 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 90 (anticipating the attorneys and I will be discussing issues for 30-45 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: Allow them to approach
  • 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? Most instructions are before 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? 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? I caution attorneys for unprofessional behavior (late appearance, improper argument, rudeness to opposing counsel) and that seems to address the problem. If the behavior were to continue, I would report the offending attorney. My practice is to give attorneys the opportunity to modify their behavior before reporting them to the Board.

Judicial Districts