Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Full Representation in a Housing Court Case An Introduction to Best Practices in Pro Bono Cases in Hennepin County.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Full Representation in a Housing Court Case An Introduction to Best Practices in Pro Bono Cases in Hennepin County."— Presentation transcript:

1 Full Representation in a Housing Court Case An Introduction to Best Practices in Pro Bono Cases in Hennepin County

2 Full Representation Case: Point A to Point B Intake, case screening, and issue spotting Representation decision Drafting court documents Court appearance

3 Specific Steps in the Process Intake – Initial client interview and document review Basic case investigation and follow-up with client – Review of public records and eviction case court file Retainer agreement Drafting Answer (or other pleading) and IFP Affidavit Meeting client to verify the Answer/pleading and IFP Affidavit Filing the IFP Affidavit for review and approval Filing the approved IFP Affidavit and Order, Certificate of Representation, and Answer/pleading Initial appearance Trial (if no resolution at initial appearance)

4 Initial Client Interview and Document Review Basic information to get from client – Address and nature of the premises (single-family home, duplex, or multi-unit apartment building) – Identity of landlord (including all business and individual names) – Nature of tenancy – written or oral lease, term or periodic tenancy – Monthly rent amount and specific information on rent payment – whether there is a third-party rent subsidy, type of rent subsidy, whether rent is current, date of most recent rent payment, and payment records or rent receipts – Utility billing information – what utilities are included in rent, what utilities are separate from rent, to whom any utility payments are made (utility company or landlord) – Narrative about current dispute, client’s perception of motivation for dispute, and client’s perception of how landlord will frame claims against the tenant – Whether client’s plan is to stay at the premises or to exit the tenancy

5 Initial Client Interview and Document Review Important documents – Lease – Notices to and from landlord, including e-mails and text messages – Payment records – Records related to any third-party rent subsidy – Utility billing records – Relevant inspection reports or police reports – Photographs, including mobile device images – Court file documents – Catch-all: Any piece of paper in tenant’s possession relevant to occupancy of the premises

6 Public Records Investigation Hennepin County Property Information Database – Key information: Identity of owner/landlord/principal City of Minneapolis Property Information Database – Key information: Rental license and owner/structure information Minnesota Secretary of State Website – Key information: Existence and registration status of business entities and assumed names Minnesota Court Information System – Key information: Filed documents, hearing date, and case status

7 Eviction Case Court File Review Summons and Complaint (plus attachments) Power of Authority – Scrutiny on signer/self-identified principal Affidavit(s) of Service – Types Affidavit of Personal Service Affidavit of Substitute/Abode service Affidavits for Mail-Post Service – Affidavit of Plaintiff/ Plaintiff’s Attorney, Affidavit of Mailing, Affidavit of Attempted Service, and Affidavit of Service by Posting – Scrutiny on timing of filing

8 Potential Issues for Follow-Up Client Interview Identity of process server Timing and manner of service of process Identity and address of Plaintiff and landlord – Does the Complaint match up with the landlord information disclosed in the lease? – Do the Complaint and the lease track with public property information? – If information is not in the lease, has Plaintiff/landlord disclosed identity and address through notices to the tenant or by posting the information at the premises? Landlord’s use of business entities and assumed names Identity of person who collects rent and manner of rent payment/collection

9 Retainer Agreement Definition and limitation of scope of representation – Reference court file number, adverse party listed in the court file, initial hearing date, etc. Definition of client obligations Definition of conclusion of representation Clarification that an appeal of any adverse decision requires a new retainer agreement

10 Drafting Pleadings Eviction Answer – Forms A-1 through A-8 – – Use of check-the-box forms at Housing Court Project Issue spotting and interviewing tool Citations included – Use of forms as starting point for other full representation cases Simplification by deletion of irrelevant sections and issues Elaboration by addition of case-specific facts and legal citations to existing language Categories of defenses – Headings on Forms – Service/personal jurisdiction – Precondition/procedure – Substantive

11 Meeting Client to Verify IFP Affidavit and Answer Must have Answer or other pleading in final form – Confirm every fact – Optional verification by client Must complete both pages of court’s form IFP Affidavit – Waiver__In_Forma_Pauperis/IFP102.pdf Waiver__In_Forma_Pauperis/IFP102.pdf – Mandatory client verification of facts about client’s financial circumstances

12 Filing the IFP Affidavit Done in-person at Housing Court – Current practice appears to be to go to Housing Court with IFP and pleading documents for clerical review and approval of IFP Order – Floor C-3, Hennepin County Government Center Presiding Housing Court Referee may review Eviction Answer and IFP Affidavit at this point

13 Filing an Answer or Other Pleadings E-FILING IS MANDATORY FOR ATTORNEYS! – E-filing can be done at kiosk at civil filing counter on public service level at the Hennepin County Government Center. Once IFP application is approved: – E-file IFP Affidavit as confidential document. – E-file IFP Order as public document. – E-file Certificate of Representation. – E-file Answer/pleading with attachments/exhibits. Landlords without counsel do not e-file/e-serve. – Tenants’ attorneys are often on parallel systems.

14 Initial Appearance Pre-hearing client meeting – Review of goals and settlement authority Roll call and service of Answer Settlement negotiations – High settlement rate – Availability of free mediators Hearing – Court review of any settlement – Motions to dismiss on jurisdictional or precondition/procedural bases – Trial scheduling issues Option to seek discovery order Posting of rent pending trial

15 Trials in Housing Court No discovery, unless ordered at initial appearance Subpoenas – inspectors, police officers, etc. AT LEAST 4 copies of each exhibit (Court, Plaintiff/Petitioner, Defendant/Respondent, and witness) Renewal of jurisdictional and procedural motions to dismiss – Motions be made orally at any time, including day of trial Rules of evidence Opening statements optional Cases in chief, then rebuttal Closing arguments vs. post-trial submissions

16 Full Representation on Post-Trial Issues Judge Review – Deadline: 10 days after oral pronouncement or 13 days after mailing of written order – Focus on purely legal issues Motion to Vacate Judgment / Motion to Quash Writ – Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 – Discussion of potential security/posting issues with client Motion for Expungement – Statutory Standard Lack of sufficient basis in fact or law for the plaintiff’s case Interests of justice Public’s interest – Common Law Inherent Authority Standard

17 General Timeline for Full Representation Housing Case If the case settles at the initial appearance, the representation could last only a couple of hours. If the case goes to trial and concludes with a trial decision, the representation could last anywhere from a couple of days up to 2-3 weeks. If the case goes to trial and proceeds through a district court judge review, the representation could last from a few weeks to a few months.

18 Questions and Contact Information Legal Aid Client Intake: (612) 334-5970 Drew P. Schaffer, Staff Attorney Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance 430 First Avenue North, Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55401 Telephone/Facsimile: (612) 746-3644 Electronic Mail:

Download ppt "Full Representation in a Housing Court Case An Introduction to Best Practices in Pro Bono Cases in Hennepin County."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google