E-Discovery Under the Minnesota Rules: Where We've Been, Where We Might Be Headed


This article reviews the history of discovery in Minnesota practice under the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, analyzes the place of electronic discovery in Minnesota today, and attempts to predict how the courts may deal with electronic discovery issues in the future. At one point it was reasonable to analogize Minnesota e-discovery to Minnesota’s infamous weather—everyone was talking about it but no one was doing anything about it. With amendments to the rules in recent years, that is not really a fair criticism, as the Minnesota courts have attempted to prevent e-discovery from subverting the strong policy goal of resolving disputes promptly, fairly, and inexpensively.

Minnesota has historically followed the lead of the federal courts in establishing court rules. This article discusses how that has occurred with respect to discovery in particular, and reviews how e-discovery problems have emerged as major challenges to the “just, speedy, and inexpensive” determination of civil cases promised by Rule 1 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. This article explores the history of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s efforts to deal with the challenges of e-discovery, both in following federal rule changes where they are deemed wise and in forging its own solutions where the federal solutions are either ill-suited to Minnesota or too limited to address the issues sufficiently. In 2013, the court adopted recommendations of its Civil Justice Reform Task Force to deal with some of these issues, many without federal court counterparts.

Originally published in the William Mitchell Law Review.

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