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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First Judicial District Judges

Vraa, Paula D.

VraaDistrict Court Judge

Counties: Scott County

State Court Bio: View Bio

Contact with chambers:

  • Set forth your preferred method to contact chambers (telephone, e-mail, etc.). telephone or email
  • To whom may attorneys direct scheduling/logistical questions? Court reporter or staff attorney
  • To whom may attorneys direct substantive questions? Staff attorney

Motion practice:

  • Set forth your practices and procedures for scheduling motion hearings. Call court administration
  • Identify any type of motion for which you do not require a hearing. Some stipulated requests, especially on scheduling
  • 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? Depends on the motion, usually 10-25 minutes per side 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attending a hearing by telephone or video conference. Very rarely allowed
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to discovery motions. First attempt to work out the issue together, then schedule a joint call with court, then file a motion
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to stipulations of the parties, including stipulations for protective orders. Protective orders should be as narrowly tailored as possible
  • Do you have particular requirements or procedures relating to requests to amend the scheduling order? Joint requests that are reasonable are usually granted, unless it affects the trial date
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to default proceedings. Must appear in person if you are the moving party
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to handling emergency motions. Alert staff attorney by telephone or email; give notice to opposing party

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. Yes, but only if motion is complex and supporting papers are extensive
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for requests to deviate from the requirements of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. Requests will be evaluated individually

In-court proceedings:

  • Identify what technology you use in the courtroom and state whether you prefer a particular electronic format. Electronic files
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attorney’s use of technology in the courtroom and during trial. Depends on the trial; address at the pretrial
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to the submission of additional legal authority or other materials at or after oral argument. Ask for permission to submit additional authority
  • 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. I will schedule only if both parties request a pretrial settlement conference. Should be scheduled at least 4 weeks before trial is scheduled. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for handling motions in limine. Brief before pretrial; argue at the pretrial

Trial:

  • What is your schedule for a typical trial day? Testimony from 9 am - 12 noon, and 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm. Motions and other non-jury issues addressed from 8:30 am - 9:00 am, and 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm. 
  • Set forth your voir dire procedures. Court does initial inquiry, then counsel. 
  • 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. Ask permission to leave counsel table, use surnames, okay to sit during questioning. Podium used for voir dire, opening, closing. 
  • 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. Address at the pretrial. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to marking and using exhibits. Pre-mark exhibits and reach agreement on whether admission of exhibit can be subject to stipulation. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures for handling objections. Short, one-word objections, no argument in front of jury. Ask to approach bench if necessary. Make a record at the break. 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to the use of deposition testimony. Identify the deposition testimony before trial, and determine if there are objections to be ruled upon before the testimony is presented at trial. Reach agreement, if possible, on whether the witness is unavailable. 
  • May attorneys obtain daily transcripts during trial? If so, what procedure should attorneys follow? Yes, talk to court reporter 
  • Set forth your practices and procedures with respect to attorney requests to contact jurors at the conclusion of trial. Address at the end of trial

Other matters:

  • Set forth any other preferences, practices, or procedures attorneys and parties may find helpful. N/A