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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.

Seventh Judicial District Judges

Scherer, John

District Court Judge

Counties: Stearns

State Court Bio: View Bio

Motion Practice
  • How long do you normally allow per party for argument of non-dispositive motions? About 5-10 minutes, depending on the complexity
  • How long do you normally allow per party for oral argument of dispositive motions? About 5-10 minutes, depending on the complexity
  • 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? 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: Only non-contested and default matters handled by phone
  • State any specific procedures you would like attorneys in your courtroom to follow at motion hearings: No specific procedures. They may stand or stay seated. Please don't interrupt each other. Send courtesy copies only if the file is venued in a county other than Stearns or if the documents are being filed relatively close to the hearing dates.
  • 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? No
Pretrial Procedures
  • When do you normally set the pretrial in relation to the trial? 10 to 20 days prior. Pretrials are not always set for simple civil litigation.
  • Do you normally hear motions in limine at the pretrial? Yes
  • When are jury instructions due? File prior to the pretrial. If no PT, about 10 days prior to trial.
  • When are proposed special verdict forms due? Same as Jury Instructions
  • When do you require that final witness lists be exchanged and filed? That should really be governed by discovery. I will need the final list prior to the start of trial.
  • When do you require that final exhibit lists be exchanged and filed? Same as for witnesses (see 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: I will become involved in settlement only if counsel believes it to be beneficial. If I schedule a PT, it is for the purpose of avoiding delay on the day of trial, so try to anticipate as many potential trial issues as you can to dispose of at the PT. Clients and claim representatives need not be present, unless the parties want the court to become involved in settlement.
Continuances and Changes in the Scheduling Order
  • For changes in the scheduling order, except date of trial: Parties may stipulate to changes so long as they don't impact the trial date. They should confirm the agreement in writing but don't need an amendment to the Rule 16 order.
  • For changes on the date of trial: Must be approved by the court and good cause presented. If any party objects, set for a motion. If all parties agree and there is good cause, the request may be submitted by letter. The sooner it is made, the greater likelihood that the request will be granted.
  • Under what circumstances would you consider granting a change in the trial date? Only good cause, such as unforeseen circumstances, illness, family emergency, etc.
Civil Jury Trials
  • Do you perform preliminary voir dire? Yes
  • Do you place a time limit on voir dire by counsel? Yes
  • Is there subject matter you will not permit counsel to ask of the jury? Yes
    If yes, please explain: Time limits - the court will ask counsel to try to stay within a time limit they deem appropriate. The court will limit voir dire to questions related to competence and bias. Counsel should not try to indoctrinate or influence the jury, or ask questions or tell stories to simply curry favor.
  • Do you require counsel to sit or stand during questioning of witnesses? Sit - it keeps you closer to the microphones.
  • 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? 10-30...depends on the issues that need to be addressed
  • I normally start jury trials at: 9:00 a.m.
  • I normally give the jury a break of 10 - 15 minutes in the morning.
  • I normally take a lunch break at: 12:00 noon
  • I normally give the jury a break of 10 - 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: Allow them to do so, but they may want to make further record during a break.
  • Do you place a time limit on final argument? Yes
    If yes, If yes, what is the time limit? I ask counsel to commit to a reasonable amount of time.
  • When do you instruct the jury? Prior to 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? Yes
  • When, if ever, would you consider issuing sanctions, formal reprimands, holding an attorney in contempt, or reporting an attorney for unethical behavior? Significant ethics violations, unexcused violation of rules of procedure that impact the other party or the court (additional costs, unreasonable delay, etc.)

Judicial Districts