Minnesota  |  Traffic Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 9/21/13, 5:24 am

in hennepin county 4th judicial district, criminal court in minnesota, can a "referee" preside over a court trial, listen to witness testimony, make a finding of guilty and then impose a fine?? my understanding is that only a "judge" can conduct a trial, even a petty misdemenor.

1 Answer

Answered on: 9/21/13, 9:16 am by Landon Ascheman

A petty misdemeanor is an ordinance violation, not a crime. Although the courts have, to my knowledge, never ruled on the use of a referee for petty misdemeanors, they have limited their use in actual criminal trials. I would also note that you have the right to challenge the use of a referee under Minnesota Statute 484.70. But the courts have stated that this should be done before the referee makes the final ruling. Essentially, you don't have the right to say, "I'm going to go with a referee, but if they rule against me I'm going to complain and get a new trial"

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