The Minnesota Supreme Court has been very busy in amending the Minnesota court rules and the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure in order to help the rules become more relevant to the increasingly electronic world that we live in. These amendments become effective on July 1, 2015. Understanding the changes that have been made is essential to the effective practice of attorneys and to avoid the potential for sanctions.
Changes to Facilitate a More Universal Electronic Court
To meet the changing world of electronic filings and documents, the court is updating Court Rules and Rules of Civil Procedure to include rules to permit electronic filings, service, and signatures, to ensure that there is uniformity and consistency in the electronic filing system. These changes apply to civil and criminal court, including juvenile delinquency, juvenile protection, adoption procedure, and guardian ad litem procedures.
Changes to the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts
The first set of amendments to the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts deal with “restricted identifiers”, defined as such things as social security numbers, employer identification numbers, and financial account numbers. The amendment first discourages the use of restricted identifiers when avoidable. When necessary, restricted identifiers will now only be able to be submitted on a Confidential Information Form or Confidential Financial Source Documents. Failure to abide by this amendment regarding restricted identifiers can be a basis for Rule 11 sanctions.
Another amendment to the General Rules allows the courts to accept certain documents without notarization if there is a declaration of “under penalty of perjury” added to the document. The signature, date, and county and state where the document was signed will also need to be included.
An additional amendment will require that all filed documents are to be consecutively numbered. This change only applies to documents that are filed in support of motions and trial exhibits and is designed to make the court process more efficient.
Amendments in the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure
A couple of the most notable changes to the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure include: amending Rule 3 to allow for electronic service with the Defendant’s consent and no longer requiring courtesy copies be sent by facsimile or mail to the parties when a document has been electronically filed.
Although the rule changes tend to aim to facilitate electronic filing, Rule 5.04 was amended to prohibit the electronic filing of discovery requests or responses without the express permission of the court.
Another notable change is that throughout the Rules, the word “document” was substituted for the word “paper” in order to bring the rules up to date and make them more relevant to the current electronic and virtual climate.
Rule 11 was amended to require e-mail addresses in all pleadings, motions and other documents to the court. This requirement is extended to discovery responses and requests by Rule 26.07.
Any application for costs or disbursement under Rule 54.04 must be signed under oath or penalty of perjury pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 358.116.
Public Access Rules
The amendments to Public Access statutes are an attempt to find a balance between privacy and accessibility by categorizing court filings and decisions into two groups. These two categories, the type of record and the type of case, will dictate whether the documents will be available only at the courthouse, from home, or be available only to certain parties involved in the case.
Examples of cases documents remote access will not be granted for include: Protection Orders, Juvenile CHIPS, Harassment/Restraining Orders, and Juvenile D-16 Proceedings. Remote access will also be available for other criminal and civil files. Most notably, the ROA and all public documents will be available.