Minnesota Appeals – A Few Key Questions

QuestionMarkThink you may be heading for an appeal in one of your cases?

Here are a few things to think about:

First, check that all errors have been preserved. If you are the appellant, you want to assess error-preservation as you proceed in the case. And for sure, at the post-trial motion stage, which will be your last chance to raise certain issues. If you are the respondent, you’ll be looking at the question from the opposite standpoint. Can you block any issues from being raised because the errors have not been properly preserved?

Do you know whether you have an appealable decision? The Minnesota rules of appellate procedure say that only some orders and some judgments are appealable. In addition, Minnesota caselaw makes certain other decisions appealable. If you are the appellant, you will pinpoint the appealable orders or judgments. And if you’re the respondent, you may be able to see that the decision appealed from is not in fact the appealable type, or that it’s not appealable as a final decision.

Do you know what’s within the scope of review? Once you have an appealable decision (an order or judgment), you need to assess what can be addressed through the appeal. Some of what comes before the appealable decision may also be reviewable through the appeal. Appellate rules and caselaw govern this.

Do you know what the standard of review is? That is the standard the Court will use in assessing the issue raised. You need to figure out what kind of question is being raised, and then what the applicable standard is. The standard is simple for some cases. For example, questions of law are reviewed de novo and that seems straightforward enough. Many decisions are reviewed with an abuse of discretion standard. It is usually clear when a decision is reviewable with the abuse of discretion standard, but it’s not always easy to see whether that discretion has been abused. Sometimes a decision involves a combination of standards. It may help you to identify and rely on that combination.

Do you know how to handle your appellate filings? If you’re the appellant, you need to know how to file your appeal in the first place. Respondent? You have procedures you need to know as well. Either side may want to file motions. Those involve some of their own hoops.

Getting beyond all these appellate niceties allows you to concentrate on the merits of the case.

Do you have questions about appellate procedures and norms? Need help putting appellate motions or briefs together? Think about calling an appellate freelancer. Someone who does this work regularly and can help you.

Karen graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 1986, first in her class. She then clerked for three years: one year for a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, and two years for a federal district court judge. Later she became a partner at two firms… MFAN Bio | Email | Web | LinkedIn | MFAN Posts

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