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Order Promulgating Amendments to General Rules of Practice for District Courts

Supreme Court of Minnesota

May 13, 2019

ORDER PROMULGATING AMENDMENTS TO THE GENERAL RULES OF PRACTICE FOR THE DISTRICT COURTS

          Lorie S. Gildea Chief Justice

         The Advisory Committee for the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts filed a report on September 27, 2018, recommending several amendments to the General Rules of Practice. These recommendations included proposed amendments to the rules applicable in Housing Court in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties and amendments to several other rules to clarify procedures, correct cross-references and citations in the rules, and make minor housekeeping amendments.

         We opened a public comment period. Written comments that supported and opposed the proposed amendments to the Housing Court rules were filed; no comments addressing the other proposed amendments to the rules were filed. We held a hearing on January 15, 2019, at which the Honorable Stephen M. Halsey, chair of the Advisory Committee for the General Rules of Practice, and representatives of three organizations- the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, HOME Line, and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid- spoke.

         We have carefully considered the recommended amendments and the comments regarding the proposed amendments. Based on that review, we adopt the committee's recommended amendments to several rules that clarify procedures and update the rules. We also adopt the recommended amendments to the Housing Court rules, in part, to update those rules. But in the absence of strong support for the proposed amendment to Rule 603 and, in light of our existing precedent, we decline to amend Rule 603. See, e.g., Save Our Creeks v. City of Brooklyn Park, 699 N.W.2d 307, 309 (Minn. 2005) ("It is well settled under Minnesota common law that a corporation must be represented by an attorney in legal proceedings.").

         Based on all of the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

         1. The attached amendments to the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts are prescribed and promulgated to be effective as of July 1, 2019, and shall apply to all cases pending on, or filed on or after, the effective date.

         2. The Advisory Committee's recommendation to amend Form 117 to provide information about potential complex cases is referred to the State Court Administrator for consideration and decision, see Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 104(b) (noting that Form 117 is "promulgated by the state court administrator").

         3. The Advisory Committee comments are included for convenience and do not reflect court approval of the comments.

         MEMORANDUM

          PER CURIAM

         The Advisory Committee for the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts recommends several amendments to Rules 601-612 of the General Rules of Practice, which apply to housing court proceedings in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. See Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 601. Included among these recommendations is a proposed amendment to Rule 603 to clarify the scope of non-attorney agent participation in proceedings in Housing Court. The committee points out that the two judicial districts governed by this rule, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, have conflicting approaches to the rule, and materials submitted during the public comment period indicate that Housing Court in Hennepin County allows non-attorney agents to appear on behalf of landlords, and Housing Court in Ramsey County requires an attorney to appear on a landlord's behalf.

         The committee's recommended amendment to Rule 603 was supported by 10 members and opposed by 5 members. The Minnesota Multi-Housing Association and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority support the committee's recommended amendment. HOME Line (including a former attorney for this tenant advocacy organization) and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid oppose the committee's recommended amendment. On two occasions, the Second and Fourth Judicial Districts solicited input on the use of non-attorney agents from Housing Court stakeholders and reported that the majority of responding stakeholders, 58 percent, supported allowing non-attorney agents to appear in Housing Court. But the districts also acknowledged "that there is not agreement from stakeholders" on this issue.

         We have the inherent authority to regulate the bar and determine who is authorized to practice law in Minnesota. See, e.g., In re Conservatorship of Riebel, 625 N.W.2d 480, 481 n.3 (Minn. 2001) (stating that "legislative enactments concerning the practice of law" are recognized "as a matter of comity as long as they are reasonable and in harmony with [the] court's exercise of its authority to regulate the bar"). The record before us on the use of non-attorney agents appearing in Housing Court on behalf of landlords lacks strong support for the proposed amendment to Rule 603 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. We therefore decline to adopt the recommended amendment to that rule.

         AMENDMENTS TO THE GENERAL RULES OF PRACTICE FOR ...


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