Ensuring Access to Justice for All Minnesotans
In 2012, more than 1.4 million cases were filed in Minnesota's state courts. The cases impacted every aspect of society:
- Minnesota families filed more than 48,500 cases involving divorce, child custody, parenting time, marriage annulment, legal separation, paternity, child support, and adoption.
- More than 11,400 cases were filed alleging domestic abuse.
- Minnesota children were involved in more than 6,500 child protection cases.
- Businesses from all around Minnesota were involved in more than 13,500 civil cases, including employee and contract disputes, malpractice, and property damage.
"The courts are one of the first promises made in our Constitution. They are essential to preserving our democracy, securing the rule of law, and ensuring the public safety."
-Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea, Minnesota Supreme Court
Fourth Judicial District Judge Kathryn Quaintance (r) presided over Adoption Saturday in 2008.
The judges and employees of the Minnesota Judicial Branch work hard to provide justice and court services in an efficient and timely manner, despite having to operate with reduced resources. In the end, however, justice is a human endeavor that requires analysis and wisdom, and is a core obligation of state government.
Working to Contain Costs
In recent years, the Judicial Branch has employed multiple strategies to contain costs. Such efforts include, but are not limited to:
- Holding open vacant positions, offering senior employees a voluntary separation, and implementing layoffs and voluntary furloughs.
- Reducing hours at public service counters at many courts.
- Holding open many vacant judgeships for a minimum of four months.
- Working with problem-solving courts to identify grant funding opportunities to keep existing courts in service.
Re-engineering for a More Efficient Court System
The Judicial Branch is implementing an ambitious reform agenda to expand the use of technology and re-engineer business practices and processes in a system-wide effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs:
- Consolidating payment processing for payable citations into a centralized Court Payment Center (CPC) that uses specialized staff and information-processing technology to speed case processing and reduce overall costs. Payments collected by the CPC are distributed to the state general fund and, in some cases, the governmental unit that issued the citation.
- Transitioning courts from the traditional paper file to electronic case records through the eCourtMN initiative. eCourtMN will increase productivity and reduce operational costs while ensuring convenient, timely, and appropriate access to case information for all stakeholders.
- Creating the Conservator Account Auditing Program (CAAP) to assist courts in their oversight of over $625 million of assets under court jurisdiction. A major component of the program is the mandatory electronic filing of annual conservator reports through the Conservator Account Monitoring Preparation and Electronic Reporting (CAMPER) system.
- Consolidating court administration; reducing court administrator positions by one-third. Many court administrators now oversee two or three courthouses.
- Implementing eCitations, the electronic filing by law enforcement of traffic citations. eCitations reduce the amount of time law enforcement and court staff spend processing citations. As of Jan. 3, 2013, eCitations were being used statewide by the State Patrol and in 71 counties by local law enforcement, resulting in 53 percent of citations issued being filed electronically.
- Partnering with the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to institute eCharging statewide. eCharging allows county attorneys to file complaints with courts electronically. As of Jan. 1, 2013, eCharging was being used in 44 counties.
- Expanded use of interactive television to enable remote participation in court hearings, reducing travel costs and speeding case processing.
- Use of remote court reporting to create the official court record, allowing a single court reporter to monitor proceedings in multiple courtrooms from a remote location.
Progress through Collaboration
The Judicial Branch continues to identify innovative ways to provide effective and cost-efficient services through justice system partnerships:
- Criminal Justice Forum- a collaboration with law enforcement, corrections, public defenders, and other criminal justice agencies focused on reducing inefficiency in the criminal justice system.
- Civil Justice Reform Task Force- a public/private collaboration charged with identifying strategies for improving the civil justice system.
- Criminal and Juvenile Criminal Justice Task Force- A collaboration of justice system agencies focused on expanding information-sharing.
How You Can Help
Contact your legislator to encourage him or her to support the efforts of the Minnesota Judicial Branch to provide fair and timely justice to the people of Minnesota.
Judicial Branch FY 2013 Annual Budget (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013)
- District Courts- $236,828,000. Most cases begin in district (trial) courts. In 2011, more than 1.6 million cases were filed in district courts, which handle everything from traffic tickets, to civil and family conflicts, to criminal cases including first degree murder.
- Court of Appeals- $10,228,000. Decisions of district courts, state agencies, and local governments can be appealed to the Court of Appeals, which by law must provide prompt and deliberate review. Court of Appeals decisions are the final ruling in about 95 percent of all appeals filed. In 2011, the Court issued opinions in 2,222 appeals.
- Supreme Court/State Court Administration- $30,759,000. The Minnesota Supreme Court is, in effect, the final arbitrator of the constitutional rights of the people of the state of Minnesota. Supreme Court decisions often serve as precedent for future cases. The Supreme Court reviews petitions in approximately 900 cases a year and accepts review in about one in eight cases. These cases can come from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Tax Court, the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, and the Board on Judicial Standards. Election contests and appeals for first degree murder cases are automatically appealed to the Supreme Court. Read current Supreme Court opinions
- Total- $277,815,000
FY13 Outlook (PDF)