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 Kara Haro, MSBA staff liaison to the Civil Litigation Section.

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Fifth Judicial District Judges

Docherty, Robert

RobertDochertyDistrict Court Judge
Counties: Brown

State Court Bio: View Bio

Contact with chambers:

  • Set forth your preferred method to contact chambers (telephone, email, etc.). email
  • To whom may attorneys direct scheduling/logistical questions? Court Administration
  • To whom may attorneys direct substantive questions? My law clerk

Motion practice:

  • Set forth your practices and procedures for scheduling motion hearings. The attorneys contact Court Administration to schedule; hearings are typically on Monday mornings.
  • Identify any type of motion for which you do not require a hearing. Some discovery motions; motions for protective orders. Attorneys are always free to request a hearing if they think it is necessary.
  • Do you accept telephone calls from attorneys to rule on discovery disputes that occur during depositions? Yes.
  • How much time do you allot for motion hearings? For most motions, 15 minutes; for complex issues, 30 minutes.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attending a hearing by telephone or video conference. Generally, if an attorney requests a telephone or video appearance, it is approved.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to discovery motions. The party raising the issue must submit a one-page letter; opposing counsel has seven days to respond, and we will then have a telephone conference to try to resolve the issue before scheduling a hearing.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to stipulations of the parties, including stipulations for protective orders. Stipulations are favored, and the parties can agree among themselves how they will handle discovery among themselves; however, the parties cannot stipulate such things as the confidentiality of court records
  • Do you have particular requirements or procedures relating to requests to amend the scheduling order? No.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to default proceedings. Follow the rules.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to handling emergency motions. Contact Court Administration to schedule. Be prepared to show an emergency.

Written submissions:

  • Do you want to receive paper courtesy copies of the parties' written submissions? If you do, set forth the number and preferred format of courtesy copies and identify any document type you do not want to receive. No.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for requests to deviate from the requirements of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. N/A

In-court proceedings:

  • Identify what technology you use in the courtroom and state whether you prefer a particular electronic format. I have no preference. Currently we are using Zoom for remote hearings; I expect that to continue.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attorney's use of technology in the courtroom and during trial. Counsel should assure the courtroom will support their preferred technology well before the date they want to use it. Use of technology cannot be distracting to the jury.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to the submissions of additional legal authority or other materials at or after oral argument. New cases that affect the decision may be submitted without further argument; I rarely allow additional fact materials after oral argument.
  • Do you permit parties to bifurcate oral argument so different attorneys address different legal issues? Yes.

Pretrial procedures:

  • Describe your preferred procedures for pretrial settlement conferences, including the timing of such conferences, persons who must attend, whether persons may attend by telephone or video conference, and how you participate in settlement discussions. The attorney who will be trying the case must attend and can do so remotely. The pretrial will typically be scheduled 30-45 days before trial. I will ask about possible settlement and will participate if requested.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for handling motions in limine. These should be served and filed in time to be heard at the pretrial.
  • What is your schedule for a typical trial day? Meet with counsel at 8:30; in the courtroom by 9:00; one mid-morning and mid-afternoon break; go until 4:30. I am in a small county, so I may have to take a break to handle another hearing, particularly bail hearings.
  • Set forth your voir dire procedures. I do the standard preliminary questions and let the attorneys ask the more case-specific questions. Objections during voir dire should be addressed at the bench.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to courtroom decorum, including movement in the courtroom, use of a podium, whether attorneys should sit or stand, and how to address witnesses. Movement should be limited to avoid distraction. A podium may be used during voir dire and closing argument. Counsel should remain seated at all other times and must ask permission to approach a witness.
  • Do you impose time limits with respect to opening statements and closing arguments? No.
  • Identify your practices with respect to the use of technology in the courtroom during trial. This is decided on a case-by-case basis. Technology should be tried out before the first day of trial; I will not delay trial while someone tries to get technology to work.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to marking and using exhibits. Exhibits should be pre-marked. To avoid duplicating exhibit numbers, pre-trial exhibits are identified by letter and trial exhibits by number. Exhibits may be published to the jury after obtaining permission.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for handling objections. Objections should be concise (e.g., "Objection, hearsay.") Opposing counsel may make a brief response (e.g., "Not offered for the truth of the matter asserted.") If counsel want to argue an objection, they must request to approach, and the argument will be held at the bench.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to the use of deposition testimony. I like to have trial video depositions in advance of trial to rule on objections. Otherwise, I follow the rules.
  • May attorneys obtain daily transcripts during trial? If so, what procedure should attorneys follow? If my court reporter is able to do it, I do not mind. Attorneys should contact the court reporter directly.
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attorney requests to contact jurors at the conclusion of trial. I have none.