• July 31, 2020
By Karen Cole

There is always a flurry of bills at the end of a legislative session.  One bill passed this past May made some changes to the statutes on guardians and conservators.  The legislation required that a confidential “bill of particulars” be filed with the trial court that would lay out the confidential or nonpublic documents filed with pleadings in guardianship and conservatorship matters.  And the statute designates as confidential some new categories of information that are not confidential under existing court rules. For example, the statute makes submitted documents indicating the reason for a conservatorship confidential.

One problem:  only the courts have authority to govern the confidentiality of court records.  Not the legislature. 

This week, the Minnesota Supreme Court said in two orders that the provisions in its existing rules would stand and control  And that the Supreme Court would have the Court’s advisory committees evaluate whether amendments to those rules should be made. 

The orders recognize that separation of powers principles (and a state statute) give authority over access of court records to the judiciary.  Watch for more developments.