Teachers and Students

A General Overview of the Minnesota Judicial Branch:

About the Supreme Court:

  • Supreme Court (PDF).  Learn about the Supreme Court, its justices, and how they do their work.
  • Supreme Court Guide to Oral Arguments (PDF, Legal-sized paper).  Read about what happens during oral arguments, learn how the justices go about making their decisions, and review information you'll want to know before observing a court session. The public is invited to attend oral arguments in St. Paul.  Check the Supreme Court calendar for oral argument times and locations. The Supreme Court is in session September - June.
  • Supreme Court Justices Throughout History.  See a chronological list of the justices who have served on the Supreme Court since Minnesota's territorial days.

About the Court of Appeals:

  • Minnesota Court of Appeals (PDF). Learn about the Court of Appeals, its judges, and how they do their work.
  • Court of Appeals Guide to Oral Arguments (PDF, Legal-sized paper). Read about what happens during oral arguments,learn how the judgesgo about making their decisions, and reviewinformation you'll want to know before observing a court session. The public is invited to attend oral arguments in St. Paul or at locations across the state. Check the Court of Appeals calendar for oral argument times and locations. The Court of Appeals is in session year-round.
  • Court of Appeals Judges Through History. See a chronological list of the judges who have served on the Court of Appeals since its beginning.

Informational One-Page Sheets (Topical):

  • No Vehicles in the Park - Grades 3-8 (PDF)> Objectives: To learn about the court’s role as interpreter of laws and to understand the sometimes difficult duty of considering the letter of the law as well as the intent of the law.
  • Resolving Conflicts - Grades K-5 (PDF) Objectives:  To learn the mediation process for resolving conflict and to learn the courts’ role of resolving conflicts peacefully.
  • Choosing a Judge - Grades 7-12 (PDF) Objectives: To explain and evaluate the procedures used to select judges. To understand the governor’s constitutional power to appoint judges. To identify factors that are considered in judicial appointments.
The following lessons were developed as part of a curriculum-development workshop that was sponsored by the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society, with the assistance of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota State Bar Association Civic Education Committee, and the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation. Lesson development was supported in part with funds from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, which Minnesotans passed into law via the 2008 general election ballot. 
  • Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Legislators and Judges are Different - Grades 9-12 (PDF) Students will learn that judges and legislators have different roles to play in our system of government by analyzing a case study that describes the development and application of the Minnesota Move Over traffic law, which requires that drivers move over a lane when approaching a squad car involved in a traffic stop. Students will storyboard the steps taken as the law moves from the legislature through the three levels of the court system and then back to the legislature. Lesson includes a student reading and comparison chart.  
  • Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Judicial Decision Making - Grades 9-12 (PDF) This lesson describes Minnesota’s different levels of courts differentiating them by structure, function, and decision making processes. The lesson includes a brief lecture/direct instruction component as well as a guided discussion activity. The direct instruction component is appropriate for any Civics course with a Judicial Branch unit focus. Due to its content, the lesson activity as written is most suitable for older high school students in Government or Civics classes.
  • Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Elections and Impartiality - Grades 9-12 (PDF) Students will learn about judicial elections and impartiality through case studies on the exercise of First Amendment rights in judicial elections, limitations on corporate contributions, and procedures to protect impartiality. Strategies used include jigsaw of case studies and deliberation on proposed change to the Minnesota Constitution regarding judicial elections.
 

"Going to Court in Minnesota" Videos and Curriculum

“Going to Court in Minnesota” is a half-hour video designed to help immigrants, refugees, and others better understand the Minnesota court system and be prepared to go to court.. It is provided in four languages: English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish. Each video is subtitled in English. The program features judges, court employees, and community advocates explaining various aspects of the judicial process and cultural differences.  

Going to Court curriculum, designed for use with the video by teachers in English Language Learner classes and produced in conjunction with the Minnesota Literacy Council, is available in PDF.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch has a Speakers Bureau to provide speakers, at no cost, to schools, civic, business,  and other community groups.  Minnesota judges and court personnel regularly speak to school and community groups about the Minnesota Judicial Branch, juvenile justice, how civil and criminal cases proceed, sentencing, and other topics.  In addition, judges and justices at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul host numerous tour groups throughout the year.  The Speakers Bureau can help you schedule a Judicial Center tour or find a Judicial Branch representative in your area who can best address your group. 
 
This effort is designed to help educate people about the Minnesota Judicial Branch and its role in their communities.  By enabling groups to hear directly from judges and court officials, it is hoped that citizens will have a better understanding of the judicial system and its function in a democracy.  
 
Speakers will discuss court-related subjects of special interest to the host group and will take questions from the audience or students.  All judges are bound by the Code of Judicial Conduct and are unable to address certain matters, such as pending litigation, or to give legal advice. 
 
It is recommended that your request for a speaker be made directly to the Court Information Office Speakers’ Bureau submitting the request form.  Please contact Lissa Finne, Communications Specialist, at (651) 297-5532 or Lissa.Finne@courts.state.mn.us with any questions.

Meet Your Court

"Meet Your Court" was a weekly public affairs program and community service of the judges of Hennepin County District Court / Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota.  This 30-minute broadcast was launched to increase public understanding of the judiciary, the least-understood branch of government, and related issues.

Guests included Minnesota governors, first ladies and Supreme Court justices; state appellate judges, state and federal trial court judges; federal and state legislators, local elected officials, court managers, attorneys, journalists, managers of governmental agencies; and representatives of public interest, social service and community organizations, and others.                      
                                
There are 158 editions of "Meet Your Court," produced from 2000-2008.  Judge Kevin S. Burke hosted 150 editions.  The producer was Ken Bergstrom.  The last six editions were co-produced with the Minnesota Judicial Branch.  All editions are available on DVD and / or VHS tape from the court's lending library, which is open to the public.    

The court ceased production of "Meet Your Court" in 2008.  Please send an email to
  • ask questions; and
  • borrow DVDs / VHS tapes

The District Court Show

Judge Stephen Halsey, Tenth Judicial District, hosts a monthly program that educates the public about the judicial system. Judge Halsey interviews other judges, attorneys, police officials, as well as interested citizens.

Visit Quad Cities Community Television's website for access to "The District Court Show."

Constitution Week

Image of the United States Constitution
SAVE THE DATE!
September 17, 2015 is Constitution Day! Educational institutions that receive federal funding 
are required to teach about the Constitution or conduct Constitution-related programs each year
 on September 17. This fall, Minnesota educators can count on some great resources for Constitution education and engagement.

The Minnesota Supreme Court Historical SocietyLearning Law and Democracy, and the Minnesota Historical Society are teaming up to offer “Constitution Week” events September 14-18, 2015. Teachers can find free online resources to help teach about the Constitution, and students and teachers can be part of a statewide Twitter event, #MNCONSTWEEK, to learn more about the Constitution. Students and teachers who participate in the Twitter event are entered in a drawing for prizes!
Lissa Finne
Communications Specialist
Court Information Office
Minnesota Judicial Center
State Court Administrator's Office
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone: (651) 297-5532