Annual Report


 Civil Litigation Section
Annual Report



Section Membership
As of 06/19/20 the Section has 1072 members.

Financial Status
The Section had an account balance of $37,427.11 as of March 2020.

CLEs & Events
The Section hosted 7 events in fiscal year 2019-20.  

Program Title


Event Code

CLE Credits

Number of Attendees

Feed My Starving Children Volunteer Event; co-sponsored by the New Lawyers Section






The Essentials of Cross Examination- Preparation, Execution, and Impeachment



1.0 Standard


The Nuts and Bolts of the Attorney client Privilege and Work Product Doctrine- When and How to Assert Both



1.0 Standard



May it Please the Court: How to Improve Your Federal Practice CLE and Holiday Social



1.0 Standard


Best Practices in Preparing Your and Your Clients for Mediation



1.0 Standard


Trials and Tribulations: Trying a Civil Case Ethically and Professionally



1.0 Ethics


Impact of COVID-19 on Certain Minnesota District Courts and Court of Appeals - Moving to Remote Hearings



1.0 Standard


Effective Advocacy on Virtual Platforms



1.0 Standard



Annual Meeting and Election Results:
The Section’s Annual Meeting was held virtually on Friday, 6/12/2020.

The following council members were re-elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2022:

  1. Scott Rusert
  2. Lindsay Keller
  3. Janel Dressen
  4. Melissa Stull
  5. Annamarie Daley
  6. Michael Fondungallah
  7. Liz Fors
  8. Judge Mary Mahler
  9. Matt Morgan
  10. Dan O’Fallon
  11. Kim Ruckdaschel-Haley
  12. Molly Ryan

The following new council members were re-elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2022:

  1. Jerry Alcazar
  2. Mark Schroeder

The following council members have terms expiring on June 30, 2021:

  1. Stephanie Balmer
  2. Judge Louise Bjorkman
  3. Michael Carey
  4. Judge Stephen Daly
  5. Martin Fallon
  6. Judge Thomas Gilligan
  7. Galen Robinson
  8. Matthew Schaap
  9. Chad Staul
  10. Jeremy Stevens
  11. Judge Ned Wahl

The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2021:

Section Chair: Scott Rusert
Section Vice Chair: Lindsay Keller
Section Treasurer: Janel Dressen
Section Secretary: Molly Ryan

Section Accomplishments:

Tolling Deadlines Legislation: Sherri Knuth (the MSBA’s Access to Justice Coordinator) asked our Section for feedback on a communication from Chief Justice Gildea of the Minnesota Supreme Court to legislative leaders asking that they toll certain deadlines during the Governor’s Emergency Declaration related to COVID19.  In particular, we were asked for comment on one of two specific areas of tolling related to statutory deadlines and statues of limitations across a range of civil matters.

An ad hoc committee of the Section Council reviewed the proposed language and examples of certain circumstances contained in a letter from Chief Justice Gildea to the Legislature.  The ad hoc committee prepared the following statement, which was approved, passed by the Section Council, and sent to the MSBA’s lobbyist, Bryan Lake:

Civil Litigation Statement of Support

The Civil Litigation Section of the Minnesota State Bar applauds and supports the effort by Chief Justice Gildea to seek legislation tolling various timelines and statutes of limitations in these difficult times.  People should not be denied justice due to this ongoing public health crisis and attorneys should be encouraged to self-quarantine, to the extent possible.   However, the section opposes the portion of the request that allows a judge to "determine that individual circumstances relevant to public safety require in a specific case that the deadline in the controlling statute be applied."  In our view, the tolling provision should be a bright line rule.  We are concerned that if the tolling provision is not express and concrete, lawyers will feel compelled to take immediate action to protect their clients' rights, which could undermine the overall goal of the extension.   

Following this statement, Bryan Lake kept our Council apprised of the specific language being proposed and ultimately finalized and passed by the State Legislature as HF 4556.  Our Section “signed off” on the final language.  Shortly after the passage of the legislation, we posted a practice tip notifying attorneys about the legislation and generally explaining how it operated for civil matters.

Summarized Court orders as a result of Covid-19: The Section Council was asked by the MSBA to summarize court orders that were released in March in an effort to synthesize the orders for the MSBA membership. In addition, the Section Council created a Practice Tip in regards to the suspension of deadlines. This practice tip and many more can be found here.

Judicial Preferences Survey: The Section continued distribution of the Judicial Preferences Survey to all district court judges throughout Minnesota and worked throughout the year to increase judge’s participation in the survey. The survey results are available for download from the MSBA website and for purchase in hard copy on Amazon.

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 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 six tips were emailed to members in the past bar year, some providing timely updates with the court’s updated policies on Covid-19.

Service: The Section continued its Service committee and organized service projects for our members’ participation, including a collaboration with Feed My Starving Children. Unfortunately, the closure of a food shelf in downtown Minneapolis and the Covid-19 outbreak put other opportunities on hold, however the Council looks forward to finding new opportunities in the next bar year.

Grants: The Section approved four grants this year.

First, the Section granted $2,000 to MSBA Mock Trial Program. This program educates teachers, parents, and students about the legal profession and provides them with a better understanding of the process and of legal professionals. 

The Section also granted the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society $2,000 to help fund its annual statewide essay contest for high school juniors. The essay contest promotes the interests of the legal profession by promoting legal literacy in school-age children, so that they will become adults who understand and appreciate the third branch of government and the role that courts and attorneys play in the judicial system. This year’s essays can be read here.  

The MSBA New Lawyers Section requested a grant of $150 for their Annual New Lawyers Leadership Conference, which celebrates new attorneys and provides them with resources, education, and connections within the association.

Finally, the Council sponsored the MSBA Convention at $500 to provide a discounted rate for all Civil Litigation Section members to attend the two day convention. Unfortunately, the convention format changed to a virtual conference due to Covid-19 and the sponsorship was refunded.

Submitted By:
Judge Edward Wahl, Section Chair
Date 6/30/20