• October 15, 2020

A post from Karen R. Cole:

The Problem:

Thousands of legal documents are filed in Minnesota courts every year incorrectly filing confidential information in a way that is publicly accessible. About 100 noncompliant documents are filed each week.  Over 400 documents with confidential information were improperly filed as public documents in one week alone.  That includes filings with social security numbers, bank account numbers, and private medical information. This has placed an impossible burden on court staff.   Court staff are not able to screen and divert all these improper filings. 

The Solution:

The Minnesota Supreme Court has adopted amendments to the court rules that impose some new filing requirements.  The new rules allow the clerk to strike filings that incorrectly include restricted identifiers (like social security numbers and financial account information) or that include other nonpublic information, if the documents are not filed properly within three days after notice from the clerk’s office. 

The New Rules:

The Minnesota Supreme Court has amended the Rules of Civil Procedure and the General Rules of Practice.

Filing procedures will change.  Filers must designate nonpublic documents in two ways:

  1. By filing a new universal cover sheet (a modified Form 11.2), and
  2. By designating documents as nonpublic in the eFiling system.

The new cover sheet will require you to specify your basis for claiming that a filed document is nonpublic.   

In the alternative, filers may use an “event code.”  (More about that another time.)    

Attorneys will need to understand the Minnesota Public Access Rules to learn what documents are nonpublic. That depends on the type of case and the type of document. 

What if you screw up?  What if you don’t file a nonpublic document properly?  If you don’t use the correct cover sheet (and designate the document as nonpublic) or if you don’t use the correct event code for a nonpublic or confidential document?  The clerk may strike your document if you don’t correct the filing within three days after the clerk gives you notice. 

Relation back is possible.  You may ask the district court for the benefit of an earlier filing date (in the interest of justice) for a filing that was struck by the clerk.    The district court may give you the benefit of an earlier filing date for a document that was struck.  But that will require a motion.

More details are available here and here and here

The amendments take effect on January 1, 2021. 

The Ramsey County Bar Association is sponsoring a CLE on the new amendments on October 22, 2020.  Patrick Busch and Michael Johnson from the State Court Administrator’s Office will be speaking along with Karen Cole, Premium Legal Writing.