What Happens When the District Court Judge Doesn’t Get It Right: The Minnesota Court of Appeals Process

You hire an eminent domain attorney, compile your case, argue in court, and lose. Is this the end of the road for your case? Sometimes. But in this complex area of law, it is possible for judges to make an error of opinion, overlooking important case law that supports your particular case. When this happens, you have the right to appeal the decision of the district court with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.


When to Pursue an Appeal

While you always have the right to appeal an eminent domain ruling, it doesn’t always make sense to do so. There must be evidence that the district court judge made an error in judgment based on either the facts or the law, therefore making it appropriate to send your case back to the district court for remand or to overturn the district court’s ruling entirely. However, it is often very difficult to overturn a judge’s decision if you think they made a factual error. In other words, it generally only makes sense to appeal your case if you believe there was an error in the interpretation of law, not in the facts of the case.

To determine if you have a good case for appeal, your attorney must gather and present legal evidence of the judge’s error. No new facts or witnesses may be presented in an appeals case. This requires a lot of legal research and knowledge of eminent domain law, so it’s important your attorney has experience and expertise in arguing appeal cases.


Minnesota Court of Appeals Process

There are five stages to an appeals case in the Minnesota court system.

Service and Filing of Appeals Papers. This occurs after all aspects of your eminent domain case are decided in district court and after your attorney has gathered enough legal evidence to support your appeal.
Preparation of District Court Transcript and Records. Once the appeal is filed, the court gathers all documentation relating to your district court case.
Briefing. Your attorney submits your argument and all evidence to the Court of Appeals and the respondent.
Oral Arguments (or Nonoral Conference). If both you and the government have attorneys, the Court of Appeals may hear oral arguments from both sides. If one side lacks an attorney, the court instead reviews only the written arguments and evidence.
Decision. The court discusses your case privately and issues a written decision within 90 days of oral arguments or nonoral conference.

The appeals process is complex and can take some time to complete. If you win your appeal, the court will either overturn the ruling of the district court or send your case back to district court for further proceedings. If you lose your appeal, it may be possible to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court if you believe the Court of Appeals made an error in judgment based on current case law.

If you believe the judge in your eminent domain case made an error in judgment, you may have reason to appeal your case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. It’s important to have an experienced attorney help you build and argue your appeal. To discover if your case is a good candidate for appeal, contact Jon Morphew and the Morphew Law Office, PLLC at 612-790-9189 today for a free consultation. 

Brynne Turner