November 30, 2020
Recently I represented a client seeking to uphold a default divorce judgment she obtained after her ex-husband failed to respond to the summons and petition in Minnesota. Both parties completed extensive briefing on the ex-husband’s motion to vacate the judgment, but as has likely been experienced by every attorney reading this article, at the motion hearing the presiding judge dropped a sua sponte bombshell on us. Prior to any argument being heard, the judge asked whether she had the authority to even enter a default divorce judgment at the time it was entered based on recent Minnesota COVID-19 legislation.
On April 15, 2020, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota signed into law 2020 Minnesota Laws Chapter 74, Article 1, Section 16. The spirit of the legislation is certainly understandable, as the Minnesota Legislature and Governor do not want Plaintiffs or other parties to lose their claims while everyone is stuck in the quagmire of a pandemic. However, it appears that not all of the consequences of such a broad suspension of statutory deadlines were considered.
Read the rest of the article which Josh Feneis authored for the newsletter of Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, The View.