An Obvious Pattern at the Minnesota Court of Appeals

The Minnesota Judicial Center, home of the Minnesota Court of Appeals
The Minnesota Judicial Center, home of the Minnesota Court of Appeals

Decisions by the Minnesota Court of Appeals are released every Monday at 10:00 AM on the nose. Yesterday (because Monday was Memorial Day), three-judge panels of the Court of Appeals issued decisions in 25 cases: three published decisions, 18 unpublished opinions, and four order opinions. The cases being appealed came from all over the state. Some cases decided involve weighty issues of the separation of powers of government that are almost certain to be ultimately decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court, and some have relatively little practical effect and will go on no further. Some cases were criminal, some were civil. There were dissents from the majority in two cases and no concurrences. Seven decisions were written by retired Court of Appeals judges serving by a special appointment, while the rest were decided by active judges of the Court of Appeals. But other than all being decided yesterday by the Court of Appeals, these cases had another thing in common.

Every decision yesterday affirmed the lower court or agency’s decision. All 25. Because there were only the two dissents, there were 73 votes to affirm and two votes to reverse – meaning only 2.67% of votes were against the decision of the lower court or agency.

It’s notoriously difficult for appellants/relators to win at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. (Just as a very apples-to-oranges comparison, at this point in the United States Supreme Court’s term, it has reversed in 81% of the cases it has decided.) While a 0% reversal rate over this many decisions is unusual, it isn’t shocking. Those looking to overturn a lower court or agency decision, consider yourselves warned – the odds are usually going to be against you.

By David L. Liebow

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Posted in: AppealsStatistics

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