Minnesota Court Records
How do Minnesota Courts work?
The Supreme Court is the highest legal power in the state of Minnesota. They exist mainly to review the decisions made by the Court of Appeals, to resolve any conflict or questions over law. The Court of Appeals in turn reviews the decisions made by lesser courts when one party decides to contest. These lower courts include the 87 superior or trial courts located in the 87 Minnesota counties. There are seven Supreme Court judges, 19 Court of Appeals judges, and 294 lesser court judges. The Court of Appeals heard around 2,000 cases in 2017.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
Civil courts deal with those cases in which the petitioner is looking for over $15,000. There are nearly 175,000 of these cases each year on average. These cases can also revolve around non-monetary disputes such as property, restraining orders, and name changes. On the other hand, small claims court deals with petitioners looking for under $7,500. This is not represented by counsel and nearly 150,000 of these cases are filed each year on average. These cases can include disputes over loans, warranties, repairs, and deposits, and the court can order a defendant to pay pack a fee.
Appeals and court limits
The appeals process and court limits differ between small claims court and civil court in a number of ways. In small claims court you are not allowed pretrial discovery, where as in civil court you are. You can also have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you in civil court, while neither are allowed in small claims. Only the sued party can appeal a small claims court decision, while either party can appeal in civil court. Parties must complete their cases within 30-70 days in small claims cases, or 120 days in civil cases. The filing fees for these cases are between $30 and $100 for small claims and $180-$320 for civil. There were 1,258,302 cases filed across Minnesota district courts in 2017. You do not have to be a US citizen to defend or file in small claims court, and can hire an interpreter if your English is not of a decent level.
Why are court records public?
The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act was passed in 1991 by the state legislature. This allowed any resident of the state to access and file for copies of all records held by the state or local government. The act states that this is a fundamental right of the people of Minnesota. It emphasizes disclosure, openness, and safeguards government accountability.
A person can acquire records at:
135 Minnesota Judicial Center
25 Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
St. Paul, MN 55155