U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota has a long and important history in the North Star State. Established on May 11, 1858, just two years after Minnesota became a state, the District of Minnesota encompasses the entire state and serves millions of residents. Let’s take a closer look at this influential federal court.
Overview of the District Court
The District of Minnesota is part of the Eighth Circuit of federal courts and is the only judicial district in the state. It operates out of the Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse located at 300 South 4th Street, Suite 402, Minneapolis, MN 55415. The court’s phone number is (612) 664-5900.
The current U.S. Marshal overseeing the District is Eddie Frizell. The Marshal’s office provides security for the court, protects federal judges, transports federal prisoners, and apprehends fugitives.
Six Divisional Courts Across Minnesota
Although it is one district, the court is divided into six divisions to better serve the 87 counties of Minnesota. The divisions allow courts to be located closer to citizens across the large state.
The First Division covers Dodge, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Steele, Wabasha, and Winona counties in the southeastern part of the state. Trials for this division are held in the city of Winona.
The Second Division includes Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Freeborn, Jackson, Lac qui Parle, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock, Sibley, Waseca, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine counties. This division holds court proceedings in Mankato.
The Third Division oversees cases from Chisago, Dakota, Goodhue, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, and Washington counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Trials take place in Saint Paul.
The Fourth Division is comprised of Anoka, Carver, Chippewa, Hennepin, Isanti, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Renville, Sherburne, Swift, and Wright counties. This division, like the Third, holds trials in Minneapolis.
Up north, the massive Fifth Division contains Aitkin, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, and Saint Louis counties. Court is in session in Duluth for these counties.
Finally, the sprawling Sixth Division oversees Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, Stearns, Stevens, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, and Wilkin counties in the northwest part of Minnesota. The city of Fergus Falls hosts proceedings for this division.
Judges and Staff Serve Citizens
The District of Minnesota has 7 district court judges who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They serve lifetime appointments. Judge John R. Tunheim currently serves as Chief Judge. He oversees the administration of the court.
There are also 6 magistrate judges who handle preliminary criminal matters, prisoner cases, and civil pretrial events. The active judges are supported by senior judges, bankruptcy judges, clerk’s office staff, probation officers, court reporters, and interns.
Vast Jurisdiction and Caseloads
The District of Minnesota holds jurisdiction over the entire state, which has a population of over 5.6 million residents. It contains major metropolitan areas like Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as remote rural areas.
The court handles an immense caseload ranging from criminal prosecutions to civil lawsuits and bankruptcy filings. There are over 5,000 new case filings every year. The judges preside over trials, approve search warrants, sentence defendants, and make rulings on legal motions.
High Profile Cases
The District has adjudicated many high-stakes, high-profile trials over the years. In the 1990s, Judge Michael Davis presided over the trial of two men who had planned to bomb the UN building and other targets. He sentenced them to long prison terms.
More recently, Judges Patrick Schiltz and Michael Davis handled cases arising from the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The judges worked extensively on the civil rights and post-trial issues.
For over 160 years, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota has served the citizens of the North Star State. Its judges and staff work hard to provide justice, protect rights, and uphold the Constitution. The District plays a vital role in the lives of Minnesotans. Its legacy will continue in the years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many judges serve on the District Court of Minnesota?
There are 7 district court judges and 6 magistrate judges.
What happens if a judge retires?
When a district judge retires, the President nominates a replacement and the Senate votes to confirm.
What cities hold court for the district?
The main cities are Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Fergus Falls, Mankato, and Winona.
What types of cases do the judges hear?
Judges hear both civil lawsuits and federal criminal prosecutions.
Who provides security for the court?
The U.S. Marshal’s office protects the court and transports prisoners.