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Lesson Plans

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.


Minnesota Supreme Court Decisions - Highlights from 2011

Please note: Case summaries provided by Professor Peter Knapp, William Mitchell College of Law; reprinted with permission.

 Civil Cases:  Appellate Opinions:
 Dog Bite: Provocation
 Engquist v. Loyas, 803 N.W.2d 400
 Case #A09-1760
 Justice Dietzen
 Filed September 21, 2011

Case Summary (pdf)








 Eminent Domain: Regulatory Taking
 DeCook v. Rochester Intern. Airport Joint Zoning Bd., 796 N.W.2d 299
 Case # A09-969
 Justice G. Barry Anderson
 Justice Stras took no part
 Filed March 30, 2011







 Criminal Cases:  Appellate Opinions:
 Arrest: Probable Cause
 State v. Williams, 794 N.W.2d 867
 Case #A08-2129
 Justice G. Barry Anderson
 Justice Page Cconcurring
 Justice Stras took no part
 Filed March 9, 2011  




 Court of Appeals Opinion in Case #A08-2129 


 Search and Seizure: Reasonable Suspicion
 Search and Seizure: Voluntary Consent
 Search and Seizure: Inevitable Discovery
 State v. Diede,
 795 N.W.2d 836
 Case #A09-1120
 Justice Meyer
 Justice Dietzen dissenting, joined by Chief Justice Gildea and  Justice Stras
 Filed March 30, 2011
 Case Summary (pdf)


Supreme Court Opinion in Case #A09-1120 

 Court of Appeals Opinion in Case #A09-1120 

Lissa Finne
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