RCLL December 2023 CLE

Photos public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Ramsey County Law Library currently hosts one virtual continuing legal education (CLE) course each month. For December 2023 our presenter will be Matt Eichenlaub of HOME Line. He will present an on the topic of Changes to Landlord/Tenant Laws in Minnesota. Please note that this month’s CLE will be hosted via Zoom.

CLE Details & Registration info:

Sign up for this CLE (one standard credit pending) using the registration link below.

Register for Ramsey County CLE: December 13, 2023

12/13/2023, 12:00 PM – 12/13/2023, 1:00 PM
Time zone: (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

Please register and join this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Presentation title: Changes to Landlord/Tenant Laws

Presentation description: 2023 saw some of the most comprehensive changes in Minnesota’s Landlord Tenant Law in over two decades. The changes touch privacy, security deposits, evictions, emergency repairs and cannabis use. This CLE presentation will be a summary of some of the larger changes.

Speaker biography: Matt Eichenlaub is an attorney at HOME Line.  He began with HOME Line in April of 2008.  Matt worked as a debt collection attorney prior to working at HOME Line.  Matt graduated from Hamline University School of Law in 2004. 

Matt’s work has focused on foreclosure law as it relates to tenants.  He has advised over 3,500 tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure.  It is likely that he has advised more tenants in foreclosure than any other attorney in the State of Minnesota. In addition to his foreclosure work, Matt advises tenants about their rights regarding evictions, security deposit disputes, and repairs, amongst other topics. He has advised over 19,500 Minnesota renter households. He has given over 190 speeches to the high school students, landlords, and tenants. 

If you have questions about the session, please contact the law library at 651-266-8391.

See you there!


RCLL November 2023 CLE

Photos public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Ramsey County Law Library currently hosts one virtual continuing legal education (CLE) course each month. For November 2023 our presenter will be Deanna Natoli from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. She will present on the topic: Public Discipline (so far) in 2023. Please note that this month’s CLE will be hosted via Zoom.

CLE Details & Registration info:

Sign up for this CLE (one EOB credit pending) using the registration link below.

Register for Ramsey County CLE: November 8, 2023

11/8/2023, 12:00 PM – 11/8/2023, 1:00 PM
Time zone: (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

Please register and join this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Presentation title: Public Discipline (so far) in 2023

Speaker biography:

Deanna Natoli joined the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in November 2021 after spending over 11 years as a criminal prosecutor in both Minnesota (Dakota and Isanti counties) and Michigan (Eaton County). Deanna received her J.D. from Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law and two Bachelor of Arts degrees from Michigan State University. Deanna is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and has volunteered as an MSBA Mock Trial judge.  Deanna previously served on the Minnesota County Attorney Association’s Appellate and Diversity committees.

If you have questions about the session, please contact the law library at 651-266-8391.

See you there!


RCLL October 2023 CLE

Formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as it was been comprised on June 30, 2022 after Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the Court.  The Justices are posed in front of red velvet drapes and arranged by seniority, with five seated and four standing...Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Ramsey County Law Library currently hosts one virtual continuing legal education (CLE) course each month. The presentation scheduled for October 11, 2023 is titled: Nine for Nine Supreme Court Review, 2022-23. Please note that this month’s CLE will be hosted via Zoom starting at 1:00pm.

CLE Details & Registration info:

Sign up for this CLE (one standard credit pending) using the registration link below.

Register for Ramsey County CLE: October 11, 2023 1-2 pm

10/11/2023, 1:00 PM – 10/11/2023, 2:00 PM
Time zone: (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

Please register and join this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Presentation title: Nine for Nine Supreme Court Review, 2022-23

Presentation description:

As a new term gets underway at the U.S. Supreme Court, please join us for a review of some significant decisions from the last term including: Delaware v. Pennsylvania, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, Biden v. Nebraska, Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, Tyler v. Hennepin County, and 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. We will also preview some of the upcoming cases in the current term.

Speaker Bios:

Presented by David Schultz, Distinguished University Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies at Hamline University and a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Constitutional law attorney Marshall Tanick of the Twin Cities law firm of MEYER NJUS TANICK.

Schultz, David | University of Minnesota Law School (umn.edu)

David Schultz | Faculty & Staff | Hamline University

Marshall Tanick – Meyer Njus Tanick

If you have questions about the session, please contact the law library at 651-266-8391.

See you there!


RCLL September 2023 CLE

The Ramsey County Law Library currently hosts one virtual continuing legal education (CLE) course each month via Teams. For September 2023 our presenter will be Naomi Gaines-Young, who is a Post Release Specialist with Minnesota Freedom Fund. She will present on the topic: A Case Study of the Criminalization of Poverty, Culture, and Mental Illness.

Sign up for this CLE (one EOB credit pending) using the registration link below.

CLE Details:

9/13/2023, 12:00 PM – 9/13/2023, 1:00 PM
Time zone: (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

Register for Ramsey County CLE: September 13, 2023 12-1 pm

Presentation Title: A Case Study of the Criminalization of Poverty, Culture, and Mental Illness

Presentation Description:

We all remember where we were when 9/11 happened. For a young mother by the name of Naomi Gaines, it turned out, 9/11 was the beginning of the end of her sanity. What happens when the unthinkable occurs and a mother ends the life of her child? We often rush to judgement without the compassion to ask why. Naomi will share in this presentation her tragic story of what happens when we ignore mental illness in our community, in our families, and in ourselves. Often people of color are reluctant to seek help, and when we do how the system responds can sometimes exacerbate an already difficult state of mind. Naomi will share how she overcame the odds and is challenging what it means to be given mental health care and support vs. criminalization and punishment. Naomi, now a successful activist, author, and business owner, is spreading her message of awareness. She demonstrates how a transformation of her ‘inner’ world and self-expression through Hip-hop became a catalyst for self-healing and allows Naomi to perform healing work in her community.

Speaker biography:

Naomi Gaines-Young, aka N.G. Young, is an independent Hip-hop Artist, Published Author, Motivational Speaker, Mental Health Activist, Organizer and Hip-hop Scholar. She is also the owner of Love Must Be Entertainment, LLC, a Motivational Hip-hop Lessons and Media Company. N.G. lives her life in service to the many who suffer in silence as she once did, especially within the African American community. She seeks to end the cycle of guilt and shame, associated with having both a criminal history and a diagnosed mental illness. N.G. speaks openly and honestly about the loss and pain in her past while moving forward in her future. Her work includes being a keynote speaker at state universities, mental health panels, various non-profits, and annual state conferences. She’s a Certified Peer Support Specialist, and also works as a Post Release Support Specialist and Organizer for Minnesota Freedom Fund that assists individuals recently released from custody and supports those who believe stability in communities depends on the health and well-being of the individuals, families, and institutions within their communities.

If you have questions about the session, please contact the law library at 651-266-8391.

See you there!


Minnesota Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

Governor Tim Walz signs House File 100 into law to legalize recreational cannabis in Minnesota.
He is joined at the ceremony by Jesse Ventura, Minnesota governor from 1999 to 2003.

On May 30th, Governor Walz signed the cannabis finance and policy bill (HF 100) into law, which made Minnesota the 23rd state in the country to legalize adult use of recreational cannabis. Starting on Tuesday, August 1st people in Minnesota aged 21 and over will be permitted to possess, consume, and grow their own cannabis for personal use. The bill also establishes a new state agency, called the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to oversee the new recreational market, including business licenses; the OCM will also oversee the existing medical cannabis and hemp-derived markets.

Notable provisions include:

  • Legalizing the possession of up to 2 oz. of cannabis in public and 2 lbs. at home
  • Legalizing the use, possession, and transportation of cannabis paraphernalia
  • Legalizing the home cultivation of up to 8 cannabis plants (only 4 may be mature)
  • Automatic expungement of non-felony cannabis offenses
  • Creation of Cannabis Expungement Board tasked with possible expungement of felony offenses
  • Creation of the Office of Cannabis Management tasked with overseeing cannabis marketplace

The Ramsey County Law Library will be offering a CLE on the topic of Cannabis Law and Policy in Minnesota on Wednesday, August 9th from noon-1pm. Jason Tarasek, a long-time cannabis attorney with Vicente LLP, will discuss the evolution of cannabis law and policy throughout Minnesota and the United States. Jason will address the history of cannabis prohibition and the new legality of hemp, hemp derivatives, medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis. Please sign up here if you are interested in learning more about the legalization of recreational cannabis in Minnesota.


Libraries are united in the mission of providing accurate, relevant, and timely information for their patrons, a mission that has faced challenges in recent decades due to the rapid spread of misinformation online. Law libraries have encountered patrons with preconceived notions influenced by judicially unsupported legal arguments and obscure and questionable interpretations of law often promoted through conspiracy theories on the web. The most common example of this that I have encountered working in a law library is the sovereign citizen.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, members of the sovereign citizen movement “believe they are not under the jurisdiction of the federal government and consider themselves exempt from U.S. law.” Individuals who claim to be sovereign citizens reference a wide variety of constitutional interpretations, governmental decisions, and historical agreements to claim they are exempt from everything from taxes to traffic laws. In an effort to have their cases dismissed, criminal trial defendants have claimed that being a sovereign citizen means the court has no jurisdiction over them. This argument was recently used in the highly publicized trial of Darrell Brooks. However, scholars have characterized this criminal defense argument as having no legal applicability.

Time and time again, defendants claiming sovereign citizenship have had their requests for dismissal rejected by the courts. Yet in answering legal reference questions from individuals facing criminal charges, my colleagues and I have frequently encountered patrons requesting information on sovereign citizenship. This experience in not unique to our library. In their 2021 annual report, the Minnesota State Law Library Services to Prisoners Program recorded receiving over 800 questions related to sovereignty from people incarcerated in Minnesota Department of Corrections facilities.

My coworkers at the Ramsey County Law Library and I have discussed how to answer these questions according to our dual responsibilities to neutrally answer every patron’s questions to the best of our ability and to provide the most accurate, relevant information to meet each patron’s need. Navigating these responsibilities proves difficult when a patron’s question originates from misinformation and conspiracy, so I have had to carefully consider my approach.

When encountering a conspiratorial ideology like the sovereign citizen movement, I try to understand what about this particular belief might appeal to an individual. The complexity of the legal system can be overwhelming, especially for people with no legal education or experience. Sovereign citizen ideology advertises a “golden ticket” out of this complexity by promising that once an individual asserts that a court has no authority over them, they will be free to go. Law library staff are in a unique position to combat the attractive simplicity in legal misinformation by connecting patrons with resources that explain legal processes and court procedures in plain language. Whatever information we can provide to demystify the legal system for the average person weakens the appeal of conspiracy theories, offering ways to navigate the system, instead of completely (and unsuccessfully) rejecting it.

In addition to investigating why a piece of misinformation may appeal to a patron, during difficult reference interactions, I emphasize my role as an educator, rather than an arbitrator of the truth. Public librarians have found success in addressing misinformed patrons by avoiding the immediate response of “that’s not true.” Instead, librarians guide the patron through a search for relevant information and instruct them on the information literacy tools needed to evaluate sources (I’m personally a fan of the C.R.A.A.P. test). The sovereign citizen movement, like many movements born of conspiracy theories, believes the government operates in secrecy to hide its illegitimate authority, so transparency in the search process and the source of information is vital in responding to these reference questions.

Instructing patrons in conducting their own searches and evaluating sources themselves is also key for law library staff upholding the boundary between legal advice and legal information. I cannot argue whether claiming to be a sovereign citizen will get an individual out of a traffic ticket or paying their taxes, but I can help a patron search case law to see how courts have previously ruled on this argument or help them find secondary sources where legal experts comment upon the applicability of such approaches.

My hope as an information professional is that I can develop trust with my patrons, making them feel heard even when I think they have been influenced by misinformation. I want to empower them to develop their research skills, so that when they make their own legal decisions, those decisions are based on the most accurate, relevant information available.

A few cases involving sovereign citizen arguments:

United States v. Benabe, 654 F.3d 753 (7th Cir. 2011)

Bey v. State, 847 F.3d 559 (7th Cir. 2017)

Gravatt v. United States, 100 Fed. Cl. 279 (2011)


Sarteschi, C. M. (2020). Sovereign Citizens: A Psychological and Criminological Analysis. Germany: Springer International Publishing.

Sarteschi C. M. (2020). Sovereign Citizens: A Narrative Review With Implications of Violence Towards Law Enforcement. Aggression and violent behavior, 101509. Advance online publication.


Voting and Homelessness

Residing in the place where one casts their ballot is one of the fundamental requirements for voting in the United States. But what does the requirement to prove one’s residence mean when a voter is homeless? How else does the lack of a permanent address impact unhoused voters and how can law librarians help all their patrons participate in our democracy?

The challenges homeless citizens face while attempting to vote are reflected throughout case law. In 1984, a case arose where plaintiffs who were unhoused claimed the New York State Board of Elections denied them the right to vote because they slept outside (as opposed to in shelters), meaning they were unable to provide an address of a “traditional residence” as required by the Board. A federal district court ruled that the Board of Elections could not refuse to allow individuals the right to vote solely because they were homeless.1

Although officials cannot bar unhoused citizens from voting because they lack a permanent address, other requirements for voting have raised concerns of unequal burdens for homeless voters. Plaintiffs have brought voter ID laws, such as Indiana’s law requiring in-person voters to present government-issued photo identification, to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that such laws place an undue burden upon individuals who have been unable to obtain identification because they lack a permanent address. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that Indiana’s law was not unconstitutional and “the burden on voters [is] offset by the benefit of reducing the risk of fraud.”2 Advocacy organizations continue to argue that providing identification remains a barrier to unhoused voters.

While unhoused people maintain their right to vote, individuals may not know how proof of residence works in their situation. Law librarians can contact their local election officials to determine the proof of residence requirements for their state.

For example, the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State addresses homelessness and residency directly on its website. Minnesotans who are homeless can register before election day using the address or location of the place where they sleep, whether that place is a shelter, a friend or family member’s house, or somewhere outside. If a person sleeps outside, they can describe their usual sleeping location on the voter registration application, giving information such as the nearest cross-street or the general area of a public park they stay in. Election officials cannot verify a specific street address if a voter lives outside, so at the polls the voter will be asked to swear an oath stating that they live at the location they used to register.

Additionally, in Minnesota, one can register on election day even if one does not have any documents proving a permanent address. A person can go to the poll with a registered voter from the precinct who will sign an oath stating that the registering person does in fact live in the district. If one lives at a shelter, a staff person from the shelter can go to the poll to confirm that person resides there.

Each state may have different requirements for residency, and law librarians can be an important resource for citizens, housed or unhoused, in finding information on these requirements. Law librarians can also research if their state has voter ID laws, and if so, what those laws require as identification.

Finally, one must acknowledge that just because a person can technically vote does not mean that the actual process of filling out a ballet is accessible. Voters experiencing homeless may lack transportation to the polls or be unable to miss work due to financial instability. Voters may have been compelled to leave the district they recently registered in search of housing or employment. With over half a million Americans experiencing homelessness, the issues surrounding residence and voting represent a serious risk of disenfranchisement. National nonprofits, such as the National Coalition for the Homeless and Nonprofit Votes, continue to publish materials related to making voting more accessible for homeless citizens in one’s community. Law librarians can further serve their patrons experiencing homelessness by familiarizing themselves with both national and local recourses and information on the challenges facing unhoused voters, as well as the protections that all voters maintain to equally participate in democracy, regardless of housing status.

  1. Pitts v. Black, 608 F. Supp. 696 (S.D.N.Y. 1984)
  2. Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181, 128 S. Ct. 1610, 170 L. Ed. 2d 574 (2008)

Emma Schmidtke is the summer Law Library Assistant at Ramsey County Law Library. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is passionate about the intersection of library services and equitable access to information.


Ramsey County Law Library CLE Series


Starting in August the Ramsey County Law Library will be hosting virtual CLEs once a month. Our first CLE is a follow-up to the presentation from our 2022 Law Day CLE. The same two speakers, Christy Hall, Senior Staff Attorney at Gender Justice and Michael Steenson, Bell Distinguished Professor of Law at Mitchell Hamline Law School will continue their conversation and analysis of Dobbs v. Jackson. They will also discuss the local Ramsey County order that struck down some of the state abortion restrictions.

Sign up for this CLE (one standard CLE credit pending) using the link below.

CLE Details:

Ramsey County Law Library CLE: Revisiting the Legacy of Roe v. Wade, Dobbs v. Jackson, and recent MN district court decision dealing with issues around the abortion debate

8/10/2022, 12:00 PM – 8/10/2022, 1:00 PM
Time zone: (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

Register for Ramsey County CLE: August 10, 2022 12-1 pm

Speaker biographies:

Christy Hall Senior Staff Attorney at Gender Justice
Christy represents clients dealing with gender discrimination and practices in both state and federal courts. She has argued before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals as well as the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Christy litigates cases involving discrimination in employment, housing, health care and education. She is proud of her ground-breaking work on transgender rights in the Affordable Care Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Michael Steenson Bell Distinguished Professor of Law at Mitchell Hamline Law School
Professor Steenson currently teaches at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in the areas of Torts, Constitutional Law and American Legal History. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin as well as the University of Iowa School of Law. Also, a member of the American Law Institute and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Along with Professor Peter Knapp, he is the co-reporter for the Minnesota Civil Instruction Guides.

If you have questions about the session, please contact the law library at 651-266-8391.

See you there!


Welcome to Ramsey County!

Law Library Director Shannon Stoneking

Today the law library would like to introduce our new director, Shannon Stoneking.  Shannon started on April 18th, and she was previously the manager of the Dakota County Law Library.  In her new position, Shannon will continue to work on making the law library a place where Ramsey County residents can receive help with their legal questions.

Shannon has had a variety of experiences that led her to Ramsey County.  She spent twelve years in Scott County as a law clerk for both Judge Macklin and Judge Lennon.  In fact, it was her researching for the judges that brought her to the law library.  There, Scott County Law Librarian Mary Freyberg assisted her, and encouraged her interest in librarianship.  Shannon enrolled in the Library and Information Science program at the University of North Texas.  A few months later, an opportunity to move in the field of law librarianship presented itself, and with the encouragement of Mary Freyberg, Shannon took the plunge and applied.  In September of 2013, Shannon became the manager of the Dakota County Law Library.

At Dakota County, Shannon was responsible for three locations, the main branch in Hastings, the Galaxie satellite branch in Apple Valley, and at the courthouse in West St. Paul.  In her eight years at Dakota County, she created strong partnerships that improved access to justice for her patrons.  Small changes such as hiring bilingual staff, creating clinics staffed by multilingual attorneys, partnering with the public library branch librarians to bring legal information for seniors were just a few of the programs that she initiated.  During the pandemic, she transitioned into an online world where she presented CLEs via Zoom, and she provided legal information and research to remote users.

The librarians in Dakota County really appreciated the work Shannon did at the law library.  Margaret Stone, Director of Dakota County Library said:

Shannon was a great partner in serving the Dakota County community.  She is a pleasure to work with, knowledgeable, professional, supportive to her staff and I always appreciated how she made public legal service a priority in her role.  Shannon worked hard to help people reach their best possible outcome through the many legal clinics she offered and her work one on one while staffing the information desk.  We will miss her; Ramsey County is fortunate to have Shannon as director of the Law Library.

Shannon comes to Ramsey County, energized and ready to continue where Sara Galligan left off.  When she is not working on access to justice issues or running the law library, Shannon is interested in philosophy (she majored in Philosophy as an undergrad at Providence College) and participates locally at the Socrates Café.  But if you really want to start a conversation with her, ask her about hockey.  She is an avid fan and player, and she frequently watches her three nephews play hockey.  She is a devoted Gopher Hockey fan and hopes to see the Minnesota Wild make a long run into the postseason. 

Please stop by the law library to meet Shannon!  She is looking forward to meeting you.


Celebrating Sara!

Please join us in congratulating Sara Galligan on her retirement.  Sara has been the Director of the Ramsey County Law Library since 2008, and she leaves the library and Ramsey County a better place.

For the past almost fourteen years, Sara has strived to make the law library responsive to the needs of Ramsey County residents.  She has forged relationships with groups outside of the law library, including the Ramsey County Public Library, Ramsey County District Court, Minnesota Justice Foundation, the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, and the Volunteer Lawyers Network to establish policies and develop resources that increase access to justice.

For example, Sara managed two clinics at the law library.  The Housing/Conciliation Court clinic is open to Ramsey County residents or those with a case pending in Ramsey County.  The law library also hosts the Criminal Law Clinic, which is open to anyone living in Minnesota.  In addition, the law library provides space for Ramsey County’s Criminal Expungement clinic, which suspended operations during the pandemic, but hopes to open later this year.

Sara was also the impetus that created the law library’s Antiracism Booklist, and continues to advocate for collecting titles that help readers learn about cultures and life experiences different from their own.  This forward-thinking attitude is also reflected in the library’s collection development policy, which was approved by the Law Library Board of Trustees last December. 

Sara’s work in bringing access to justice issues to the forefront was recognized nationally when she chaired a special committee of the American Association of Law Libraries that created a report on Law Libraries and Access to Justice.  She is also an active member of the Self-Represented Litigation Network, and with her colleagues created a story map 2019, which shows how self-represented litigants are helped by law libraries

In addition, her leadership skills have been recognized not once, but twice by the Minnesota legal community.  Minnesota Lawyer sponsors several annual awards to recognize outstanding members of the profession.  In 2003, Sara was recognized as an “Up and Coming” attorney.  This award honors newer attorneys to the Minnesota Bar who have significant professional accomplishment, leadership service to the community and the profession.  In 2015, Sara was once again honored, this time as an “Unsung Legal Hero.”  The Unsung Legal Hero Award is presented to the state’s most talented and dedicated legal support professionals. 

In 2019, under Sara’s leadership, the Ramsey County Bar Association honored the Law Library with the Liberty Bell Award.  This award is presented annually to honor one non-lawyer’s activities that greatly benefit our legal community and our Ramsey County citizens by increasing the effective functioning of our government and courts through understanding, encouragement, and respect for our institutions and the rule of law. 

The law library is going to miss Sara, not just for her leadership but also for the example she has set for other law librarians in Minnesota.  Congratulations Sara!  All the best for a well-earned retirement.