Annual Report

Civil Litigation Section Annual Report | 2020-2021

Section Membership
As of June 21, 2021 the Section has 1,089 members.

Financial Status
The Section had an account balance of $45,570.99 as of April 2021.

CLEs & Events
The Section hosted 11 CLE and 5 Community Service events in fiscal year 2020-21, which were attended by a total of 856 people. 

Program Title


Event Code

CLE Credits

# of Attendees

Community Service |Urban Ventures Farm Volunteer Event






Community Service | Loaves & Fishes Volunteer Event





Lessons Learned From Virtual Depositions



1.0 Standard


Courtroom Technology During a Pandemic



1.0 Standard


Important New Amendments to the Court Rules- What You Need to Know



1.50 Standard


Civil Litigation Annual Meeting and CLE- Is the Justice System Just?



1.0 Elimination of Bias


Community Service | My Very Own Bed Donation Drive*





Preparing for Trials in Covid Time



1.0 Standard


Mentoring in the Virtual World and Beyond



1.50 Standard


Supporting and Promoting Lawyers of Color In a Time of Uncertainty



1.0 Elimination of Bias


Focus Group Research and Mock Trials in the Virtual World and Beyond



1.0 Standard


Working Up the New Case



1.0 Standard


Community Service |Urban Ventures Farm Volunteer Event





Should You Try Your Next Jury State Court Civil Case by Zoom



1.50 Standard


Reducing Barriers to Justice- Civil Legal Services in Minnesota



1.0 Standard


Community Service Event | House of Charity





Annual Meeting and Election Results
The Section’s Annual Meeting was held on 6/8/21 and 90 people attended.

The following council members were newly elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2021 to 6/30/2022:
Kenya Bodden
Judge Brianne Buccicone

The following council members were re-elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2021 to 6/30/2022:

Stephanie Balmer
Judge Louise Bjorkman
Michael Carey
Judge Martin Fallon
Judge Thomas Gilligan
Galen Robinson
Jeremy Stevens
Matt Schaap
Judge Edward Wahl
Melissa Stull
Annamarie Daley
Michael Fondungallah
Liz Fors
Judge Mary Mahler
Matt Morgan
Kim Ruckdaschel-Haley
Mark Schroeder
Gerardo Alcazar

The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2021 to 6/30/2022:
Section Chair: Lindsay Keller
Section Vice-Chair: Janel Dressen
Section Treasurer: Molly Ryan
Section Secretary: Dan O’Fallon
Past Chair: Scott Rusert

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
What diversity, equity and inclusion goals did the Section include in the 2020-2021 work plan, how did you approach these goals, and what was the result?

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the community unrest that followed (in the midst of a global pandemic), our section embraced the challenge of listening, learning, acting, and healing.  First, we adopted a specific theme for our “bar year” with the intention that it would inform all that we did: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)  Leadership council members were provided notebooks with this quote on the cover into which they could take notes during meetings and jot down ideas in anticipation of meetings and events. 

Also, recognizing that membership solicitation in general is difficult during a pandemic, and more importantly, that membership in our section must first flow through membership in the MSBA, we chose not to pressure our DEI Committee to come up with ways to expand diversity in our section membership.  Rather, we asked the DEI Committee to lead a discussion at each monthly Council meeting, centered around an article, video, or podcast with a specific DEI theme.  The materials were circulated prior to each meeting and the discussions were robust, heartfelt, and rewarding while also being informative and educational to our Council members.  For many, it became the highlight of our meetings.

In addition, our five community service events were aimed at helping and healing the segments of our community that were most affected by the George Floyd murder and subsequent unrest.

Other Section Accomplishments
The Section approved three grants this year:

  • $2000 Donation to the MSBA Mock Trial program. This program is the most comprehensive effort by the MSBA in the area of public education. The program supports over 100 teams in 230 trials imploring the help of over 700 volunteers all over Minnesota. Over 1,200 students are given a unique insider’s look at the American legal system while developing their critical-thinking, teamwork, and public speaking skills.
  • $2000 Donation to the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society. This donation supports its essay contest to promote literacy in school-age children so that they become adults who understand and appreciate the third branch of government and the role that courts and attorneys play in the judicial system, as well as History Day, which promotes a better understanding of Minnesota own courts and legal system.
  • $500 sponsorship for the MSBA Convention to provide a discounted rate for all Civil Litigation Section members to attend the two-day convention.

Tubman Trifecta:  Perhaps our most significant accomplishment of the year was the creation of the “Tubman Trifecta” – a collaborative pro bono program sponsored and promoted by the MSBA Civil Litigation Section and supported by Tubman, the Minnesota-based non-profit focused on safety, hope, and healing for community members experiencing trauma – including relationship violence, sexual assault and exploitation, trafficking, addiction, mental health issues, and more.  This program has been designed to achieve three goals.  Pro Bono -- Recruitment, training, assignment, and retention of volunteer attorneys to represent Tubman clients in Order for Protection/Harassment Restraining Order hearings.  Mentorship – Pairing and connecting volunteer lawyers to mentor each other through their representation of Tubman clients; especially connecting newer lawyers with more experienced civil litigators.  Civil Litigation Skill Development – Volunteer lawyers will develop client counseling, trial preparation, negotiation, and trial skills through their representation of Tubman clients.  The MSBA Civil Litigation Section will recruit volunteers, connect them with Tubman and will provide mentorship and skill development support.  Tubman will provide training, assignment, and support for volunteer lawyers in their representation of Tubman clients.

The Tubman Trifecta will start with promotion and recruitment this summer and fall, training in October 2021, and inception targeted for November 2021.

Time’s Up Manual: The Section updated and offered free to our members the Time’s Up Manual—a comprehensive Statute of Limitations guide. Time’s Up is available for download from the MSBA website here and for purchase in hard copy on Amazon.

Practice Tips: The Section regularly emailed our members Practice Tips, which are brief updates on new rules, interesting cases, or developments in the law. A total of four tips were emailed to members in the past bar year.

Community Service: The Community Service committee held 5 service events this bar year. *The community service donation drive event for My Very Own Bed on 12/17/20 collected:

• 64 new or gently used children's books

• 56 sheet sets

• 26 pillows

• 19 stuffed animals

• 16 blankets

• 15 mattress pads

• 11 comforters

• 3 bed-in-bag (comforter and sheets)

• $950 in financial donations (enough to purchase 13 more bed sets)

Advocate Award: The 2020 Recipient of the Advocate Award was Kim Allen Pennington and it was presented virtually to him on 12/9/20.

Submitted By:
Scott M. Rusert, Section Chair
Date:  June 30, 2021