Minnesota Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
The Tax Court is an executive branch court that only hears tax-related cases.
The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals has authority over workers' compensation appeals from the Office of Administrative Hearings and the Workers' Compensation Division at the Department of Labor and Industry
Called "'Problem Solving Courts" here are several different courts that use non-traditional strategies when dealing with an offender, diverting the case from mainstream courts to effect long-term improvements in the individual's life. The courts include drug courts, mental health courts, truancy courts, community courts, domestic violence courts and the teen court (only in Blue Earth County).
Minnesota District Courts
These are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in the state. They are comprised of 289 district court judges in 10 judicial districts. Each of Minnesota's 87 counties has a district court. Jurisdiction of district courts includes traffic violations, civil cases up to $15,000, criminal and juvenile cases. Jury trials are not held in most juvenile, small claims, and child protection cases.
One source put the total number of district court cases at 1.6 million, including 114,000 criminal cases and 49,000 domestic relations.
Minnesota Court of Appeals
Established in 1983, the Court of Appeals reviews all decisions of lower courts and administrative state agencies. Nineteen judges preside over the proceedings, in which panels of three judges may review a case by calling for oral arguments and reviewing the case transcript. This court is required to render a decision within 90 days of oral arguments. About five percent of its cases are taken up by state Supreme Court. The court also receives requests for interlocutory appeals, which are judgements on aspects of cases pending in lower courts.
The court sees about 2,200 civil cases a year including over 800 criminal cases.
Minnesota Supreme Court
The state Supreme Court is the highest court in Minnesota with seven judges who are elected to renewable six-year terms. When a vacancy occurs the governor appoints a replacement but the individual must run for reinstatement in the next election. The court's primary purpose is as the final say on constitutionality of the law but certain types of appeals are direct, including for taxes, first degree murder, and workers' compensation appeals. Others may file a request for hearing but those are taken at the court's discretion. Recent statistics show the court receives over 770 cases per year.
Minnesota Notable Court Cases
A woman who lost her job at a bank was able to qualify for unemployment – but only after taking the case to the state's intermediate court of appeals. The mother of two told her boss that she needed some time off to address her child's health condition, then lost her housing, requiring more time off. The bank claimed she quit the job and the state unemployment commission denied her unemployment insurance claim. A district court judge sided with the bank, but the court of appeals said the woman never intended to leave the job and had asked for time to rectify her household situation.
A school cafeteria worker who was charged under the state's anti-sexting law saw the case go to the state Supreme Court, and she won. The father of a high school boy found nude photos of the woman on his son's computer and sought to have her punished for soliciting sex under a 2014 state law that forbids electronic communication with a minor with intent to engage in sexual contact. Both a trial court and the state appeals court sided with the woman, saying that the law was too broad and abridges First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.