Our goal here at the Ramsey County Law Library is to connect people with relevant legal information and resources. Whether your are dealing problems like divorce, custody, evictions, debt collection, traffic tickets, or other legal concerns, we are here to assist you! Although, as law librarians, we are not able to provide you with legal advice or representation, we are familiar with the legal resources locally available to Ramsey County residents and can refer you to agencies from whom such assistance may be available. You can reach us in person on the 18th floor of the Ramsey County Court House M-F 8:00am-4:30pm, by phone (651-266-8391), or via email at asklawlibrarian@co.ramsey.mn.us.

However, if you aren’t able to talk with us directly, there are a number of online resources available which you may find helpful. For residents of Ramsey County and Minnesota, more generally, we recommend the following online resources:

Court Help

Get help with your court case, forms, and hearings from the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Check out the “Help Topics” tab to find information, resources and forms specific to your legal needs.

DIY Guides

Use step-by-step guides, form-filling tools, and other resources provided by LawHelpMN. They offer self-help and informational resources in English, Español, Hmoob, and Somali.

Legal Aid

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services provides free, high-quality legal help to low-income people in critical civil matters. SMRLS serves people in three regions: southeast Minnesota, southwest Minnesota, and the east metro. All applicants must be screened for eligibility, call 1-877-696-6529, or apply online.

Find a free, local lawyer who can assist you with your situation at the Volunteer Lawyers Network of Minnesota. For Minnesota residents or those with cases venued in Minnesota, please call their intake line at (612) 752-6677 or complete an online intake form to see if you may qualify for their services.

Private Bar

Hire a lawyer by connecting with your local bar association. The Minnesota Bar Association and Ramsey County Bar Association can help you find local, private attorneys who specialize in areas relevant to your situation. Check out their FAQs for tips on when and how to hire an attorney.


Upcoming CLE Programs

Greetings readers of the Ramsey County Law Library Blog.  Today we’d like to call your attention to two upcoming CLE programs you might want to attend. 

On Tuesday March 22, the Minnesota TriBar Association is presenting “Bartenders Wanted | Women Need Not Apply.”  The speaker is the Honorable Ramsey County District Court Judge John Guthman.  Judge Guthman will present on the life and legal case of Clara Anderson, a woman bartender in 1940’s St. Paul.  After the St. Paul City Council enacted an ordinance that prevented women from lucrative bartending positions, she went to court.  Her legal battle lasted three long years.  To find out if she prevailed in her case, consider attending this CLE.  Registration is open until March 20.

Judge Guthman also authored an article about Clara Anderson’s life and legal battle.  This article was published in the Spring 2020 issue of Ramsey County History.

On March 30, the Ramsey County Bar Association and the Law Library are co-sponsoring a CLE to help attorneys increase their research skills with the LexisNexis Digital Library.  The presenter, Kaitlyn Forsyth of LexisNexis, will show users that the library is more than just a book-lending platform.  The digital library can be a new research tool to aid legal research and information organization.  Registration for this program is open now and is free to Ramsey County Bar Association members. 

Bartenders Wanted | Women Need Not Apply
Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Cost: MSBA/HCBA/RCBA Members: $15; Non-Members: $50

CLE Credits:
1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE Credits | Event Code: 445931

Deadline to register: March 20, 2022. To register after that time, email the program manager.

This presentation will be presented remotely.  Connection information will be mailed to the registrant the day before the program.

LexisNexis Digital Library Training

Date:  Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Time:  12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Cost: RCBA Member: Free; Non-RCBA Member:  $25

CLE Credits:
1.0 Standard CLE Credit

Deadline to register: March 28, 2022. 

This presentation will be presented remotely.  Connection information will be mailed to the registrant the day before the program.


Try the LexisNexis Digital Library

Have you had a chance to check out an ebook from the Ramsey County Law Library?  Minnesota attorneys can now research from their homes or offices by using the online LexisNexis Digital Library hosted by the Ramsey County Law Library.

The Lexis Digital Library allows users to access titles that the Ramsey County Law Library has in its print collection.  Some of the popular titles available include

  • Minnesota Family Law Practice Manual
  • Minnesota Residential Real Estate
  • Pirsig on Pleading
  • Stein on Probate

Also included are the Lexis Practice Guides that provide concise answers to walk you through common issues in a specific area of Minnesota law. 

A title that was just added to the product is Dunnell Minnesota Digest, an essential source to use at the beginning of the research process.  We’ve also added new titles that are available only on the Digital Library platform. 

A complete list of titles that are in the LexisNexis Digital Library is posted here, or you can call the law library to ask questions. 

Remember – all attorneys registered to practice in Minnesota can access this useful research tool.  Contact the library via phone at 651-266-8391 or via email at asklawlibrarian@co.ramsey.mn.us to set up your account. 


Here’s an update about a couple of core legal resources that all attorneys used in law school.  They are the Restatements of the Law and the Uniform System of Citation, (the Bluebook). These long-established titles have undergone some changes in the past few years.  Regarding the Restatements, the new publishing plan has caused the law library to rethink where the materials should be placed in the collection.

Published by the American Law Institute (ALI), the Restatements of the Law include many titles and their respective supplements, appendices, and numbered new versions.  Various titles cover major areas of law such as contracts, torts, property, judgments, conflict of laws, and others.  ALI began the system in 1923 to issue “restatements” that would promulgate one highly authoritative source stating the common law, with rule-like content and explanatory material.  In recent years, they devised a new numbering system in 2014, and they converted their more specialized “Principles of the Law” series to Restatements in 2015.  The narrower topics appear in more recent restatement titles which reflect ALI’s decision to publish new titles without any numbers.

It’s possible that only a law librarian would savor delving into the details about the changes.  However, our users should know that we’ve departed from our customary scheme of placing all the Restatements in one section of the library.  Our new scheme involves keeping the older Restatements, with their broad subject coverage, in the north reading room where they’ve always been.  The newer, more specialized, topical restatements are dispersed into the collection where similar subject matter is located.  That way, users who are browsing an area (i.e. employment law) will find that a restatement was published for the topic.  The law library continues to acquire the Restatements in print, and they are also available on our Westlaw service.

A new edition of the Uniform System of Citation (aka the Bluebook) is published about every five years.  The library has the current and several previous print editions.  The Bluebook is a combined effort of law review editors at four law schools–Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard.  The 21st edition came out in 2020 and is noticeably smaller than its recent predecessors.  The decrease in size is due the elimination of Table T2, which accompanies Rule 20 on “Foreign Materials,” from the print version.  Table T2 is now online only.

The Bluebook not only describes how to cite to various electronic resources, but it is itself available in electronic format and includes access on mobile devices.  There is a cost for the online version.  The Bluebook editors would like feedback from attorneys and judges and comments can be sent to editor@legalbluebook.com.

For those who would like a very condensed overview of the new Bluebook, the law library also has the User’s Guide to the Bluebook: Revised for the twenty-first edition, by Alan L. Dworsky.


More Libraries for National Library Week

To end National Library Week 2021 with a bang, we thought we’d tell our readers about CALCO, the Capitol Area Library Consortium.  Member libraries of CALCO represent a variety of state agencies, as well as entities of the judicial and legislative branches of Minnesota government.  CALCO was formed in 1973 to encourage cooperation among the government libraries.  Today, there are fourteen full members and four associate member libraries.  Associate members are libraries or affiliated groups that share the same interests as CALCO, but do not meet the membership criteria. The Ramsey County Law Library is an associate member of CALCO.

All CALCO libraries have experienced staff to help its patrons find information.  Other benefits of the CALCO Libraries:

  • Provide access to unique services and government materials that are not available elsewhere. 
  • Have material available in print, but also in microforms, electronic, and other formats.  For example, the Minnesota State Services for the Blind Library has audio and braille resources available to Minnesota residents.  In addition, the libraries include publications on diverse topics including the arts, business and economics, environment and natural resources, health, history, law and legislation, public policy, and transportation.
  • Provide access to their unique collections to the public.  The general public can find these unique materials through the online catalog or by contacting the library.  (Note that hour and access might be limited due to COVID-19.  Please contact each library directly for access.)

The pandemic has forced many of these libraries to adapt to providing services remotely, as many of the librarians were forced to work from home (and many still do.)  Dan Gausman from the State Services for the Blind Library observed, “Our service model has always been by phone and by mail.  Given that our offices are closed to the public during the pandemic there has been no drop-in, drop-off, or pick-up service.”   

The CALCO Librarians meet regularly to keep each other apprised of the issues within their respective libraries.  These regular meetings have been especially helpful in the last year, as Dan Gausman commented, “I also appreciate that our member libraries can offer support to each other during these difficult times.”

To see a full list of CALCO member libraries visit CALCO’s website at https://mn.gov/library/index.html.

Be kind to your librarian, and have a wonderful National Library Week!




Exciting news!  The law library has recently added PACER to the legal research resources available in the law library.

What is PACER?

PACER, which is an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is an electronic public access service of United States federal court documents. It allows users to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeal, and United States bankruptcy courts.  This service is maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  The funding to support PACER is derived entirely from user fees.


The PACER database contains federal case and docket information (except for Supreme Court dockets).  Dockets are the equivalent to the roadmap of a case. It tells the user what documents were filed, and when documents were filed for a case.  In addition, PACER also provides access to the underlying documents filed for the case.

Astute legal researchers know that docket information is available via other online databases (Westlaw, for example).  However, the law library’s Westlaw subscription does not include access to federal dockets and filings.  If your legal research requires federal dockets, PACER is your way to access them.

Searching in PACER

The PACER Case Locator (PCL) is a national index for district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts.  Patrons can use this search tool to conduct nationwide searches to determine if a party is involved with any federal cases.  If you know the court where your case is located, you can limit your search to a specific court to reduce the number of results.

You may search by case number, party name, Social Security number, or tax identification number in U.S. bankruptcy courts. In district courts, you may search by case number, party name, or filing date range. And for appellate courts, you may search by case number or party name.

Case information is available in PACER once it has been filed or entered in the courts Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system.

How do you access PACER?

PACER can only be used in the law library.  If you want to use PACER, please contact one of the law librarians, who will log you into the system.  There is no user charge to access PACER at the law library, though regular printing charges (15 cents/page) will apply.

For more information, please come visit the law library!




The last post described some very useful resources that are only available for free if you visit the law library.  But to be fair, we should point out that there are several very useful sources that are only available online.  Every legal researcher should know about these items.

Minnesota Title Standards

The Minnesota State Bar Association has been making their publications accessible through its website.  One of the very useful publications is Minnesota Title Standards.  The standards are edited by the MSBA’s Real Property Law Section, Title Standards Committee, and was originally published in 1949.

Why are Title Standards important?  From the preface:

The purpose of the title standards is to state in concise language how the real property bar views various title problems within the state and indicate how the majority of experienced Minnesota title lawyers would probably deal with such problems as they come up from time to time. … In examining a title, lawyers must identify the appropriate standard for approving or objecting to transfers and encumbrances found in a chain of title. The judgments an attorney exercises will also depend on applying justifiable presumptions as to certain matters and, in particular situations, these presumptions may be strong, medium, or weak.  In this situation, it is extremely beneficial for an examiner to have an indication of how other examiners would treat these problems.

Many of the present State Title Standards were adopted by the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar Association at its annual meeting in June, 1946, and have been reviewed and updated since.  The most recent edition was updated in 2017, and is freely available to everyone on the Minnesota Bar Association, Section of Real Property Law’s web page.


Minnesota State Register

The Minnesota State Register is the official publication for proposed and final administrative rules, executive orders, agency notices, state grants and loans, state contracts, and more.  Since 2004, the State Register has only been available online at the Revisor of Statutes website (or if you must pay for your regulations, Minnesota State proposed and adopted regulations are on Westlaw; the Minnesota State Register is available via Lexis in their MNSTR file.)

The State Register is the official source, and only complete listing, for all state agency rulemaking in its various stages. State agencies are required to publish notice of their rulemaking action in the State Register.  Approximately 80 state agencies have the authority to issue rules.  If they are contemplating amending an existing regulation or want to implement a new one, the agency must put notices in the State Register.

Why is the State Register important?  If you practice in areas of law regulated by state agencies; if you or your clients bid on government contracts or submit RFPs; if you want to participate in the rule-making process, this is the only comprehensive and updated publication that tracks changes to the administrative rules.

If you would like to read more about the process, the Minnesota Department of Health has written Minnesota Rulemaking Manual: A Reference Book for the Practitioner, edited by Patricia Winget.  Special kudos to her Rulemaking Progress Chart, which explains the process on one page.

In addition, the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes also publishes two books that help understand the rulemaking process:  Rulemaking in Minnesota: A Guide by Paul M. Marinac, Deputy Revisor of Statutes and Minnesota Rules: Drafting Manual with Styles and Forms.


House Chamber

House Chamber, Minnesota Capitol Building.

Minnesota House Legislative Research

The Minnesota House of Representatives has a research staff that provides non-partisan research services to all House members.  It was established in 1967 to provide information for representatives so that House members and Committees could make informed decisions as they proposed, implemented, and amended Minnesota law.  The House Research department creates publications and other web-based materials that provide information and analysis for use by all members of the House, other staff, and the public.

In addition, attorneys on the research staff advise the House on legal matters that arise from conducting House business.  The research staff also compile various data, produce tax-related simulation runs, and provide data lookup tools, and in addition, they also summarize pending and enacted legislation.

House Research is nonpartisan. Its services are available to all members of the House. The department strives to be politically neutral and impartial on issues.


Minnesota State Law Library.

Minnesota State Law Library.


Minnesota State Law Library

One last place that has oodles of useful information for free is found at the Minnesota State Law Library.  The law library staff produce and maintain Library Research Guides on a myriad of topics.  These guides are great for getting the basic information about a particular area of law, including references to statutes, regulations (if applicable), court rules, references to credible websites (Nolo Press, LawHelp MN, legal aid organizations), as well as listings of books (with call numbers) on the topic.  If applicable, it will include links to appropriate forms, as well as suggestions for related topics that can be helpful.

These guides are very useful for attorneys who need quick access to materials on a topic they aren’t familiar with.  For example, a criminal law attorney might be asked by one of his clients if he could help out with a child custody issue; a bankruptcy attorney is contacted by his cousin for information about his workers’ compensation claim.  The guides have all of the primary information necessary to dive into a new area of law.

The most recent library guide is one for self-represented litigants titled, “Representing Yourself in Court.”  This newly updated guide has answers to many of the questions that SRLs have, as well as links to helpful articles and videos, instructions, forms, books, legal clinics, self-help centers, legal referrals by county, and of course, links to county law libraries.

The resources described above are just a handful of places to get accurate legal information for free.  For more suggestions and referrals, please visit us at the law library.  See you soon!



No, not everything is online yet.

Computers and books coexisting in the Ramsey County Law Library

Computers and books coexisting in the Ramsey County Law Library


A recent visitor to the Ramsey County Law Library (RCLL) was amazed at the number of volumes we have here.  “Isn’t everything online these days?” he asked.

Experienced researchers know that not everything is online, and certainly not all legal materials online are free.  RCLL, along with many other County Law Libraries in Minnesota, do offer some very useful materials in print that are not available for free online.

 Course material from Minn CLE.

Course material from Minn CLE.


Our collection contains all the deskbooks published by Minnesota CLE, a key provider of educational material for Minnesota lawyers.  These deskbooks are well-written, and give practical, comprehensive information for attorneys.  Best of all, the content is regularly updated and refreshed.  While they do have an online product, it isn’t free.  However, the law library has a standing order for all material published by Minnesota CLE, and we allow attorneys to use and borrow these items for free.

RCLL also is on standing order to receive most course materials that accompany the CLE seminar of the same name.  The course books (easily identified by their blue, three-ring binders) often contain explanations of specific aspects of a topic, or focus on new developments that might not be found in standard treatises.  Here is a bonus – the individual chapters of course materials are listed in the RCLL’s online catalog.  Your search results will pull up the course materials if one of the program handouts match your search!  How cool is that?

Another very useful resource that we have that is not available for free online is Dunnell Minnesota Digest.  This encyclopedia of Minnesota law has an easy-to-understand arrangement (all topics are in alphabetical order), an index, periodic updates, and lots and lots of references to cases.  It is a great place to start your research if you are not familiar with an area of law and you want access to major cases and statutes.  The narrative style makes it a good tool for self-represented litigants, too.  In the law library, this set of books is conveniently located on the shelves at the front reference desk.


Prince's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations.

Prince’s Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations.


Physical reference books are still useful, even in the age of Google.  One such tool is Prince’s Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations.  If you have ever encountered an unfamiliar acronym, abbreviation, or symbol whilst researching, this is the definitive source to help you identify these abbreviations.  This book contains nearly 36,000 terms used in legal encyclopedias, law dictionaries, law reporters, loose-leaf services, law reviews, legal treatises, legal reference books, and citators.  To find this handy reference book, all you have to do is visit the reference desk in the Ramsey County Law Library.












Keeping Up with Immigration Law



Many attorneys are aware of the important immigration case Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (559 U.S. 356, 2010) which decided that a criminal defense attorney must advise a noncitizen client about deportation risks should the client negotiate a guilty plea.  The consequences of criminal activity are many and complex.  The book Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity: A Guide to Representing Foreign-Born Defendants by Mary Kramer provides detailed analysis and resources for assisting noncitizens charged with crimes.  The book regularly references two legal sources: The Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC Chapter 12) and the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 8).  Kramer details removal, detention, and deportability circumstances; she also discusses how to fashion a plea to avoid adverse consequences, including visa options for cooperating witnesses.  The section on immigration defense describes waivers and other available relief.

The Waivers Book: Advanced Issues in Immigration Law Practice provides attorneys with exceptions to the rules regarding inadmissibility and removability.  It introduces waivers—from A to Z—and includes waivers for refugees and asylees, and waivers related to unlawful presence.

These two books, as well as the following immigration titles Asylum Primer (2015), Business Immigration: Law & Practice (2017), and Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court (2017), were recently added to the law library collection.


Federal District Court of MinnesotaWe probably take our easy access to state court materials for granted, what with much electronic access offered in all Minnesota courthouses, backed up with archived material at the State Law Library.  On the other hand, how do you find the federal case information you need, with as little inconvenience and expense possible?  Sounds simple if you just want an appellate opinion from the Eighth Circuit (Google Scholar of course), but it is trickier if you need a filed motion or complaint at the district court level.  We investigated three different options for locating federal materials.

Courthouse Access – For one or two items filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, a visit to the Warren Burger Courthouse might be your easiest answer. There you will find two public computers in the clerk’s area for accessing filed materials. Be aware that you can only get Minnesota district or appellate materials this way, and that printing them will cost you10 cents per page. If you need assistance from the clerk staff, the document will cost you 50 cents per page to print. If a filed item is listed electronically but not linked (probably because it is greater than 50 pages long), you must get it from the clerk staff who will copy it at the 50 cents per page rate.  Clerk staff told us that this electronic system will allow users to search records back to “the early 1990’s.” If a case has progressed to the 8th Circuit appellate level, the documents are still accessible provided it started or became a Minnesota district case. (You cannot access 8th Circuit appellate documents that started in Iowa, for instance.)  The Minnesota clerk’s office can send materials out-of-state either electronically or in hardcopy, but that a person must send in their money first. The charge will again be 50 cents per page.  For more information contact the clerk’s office.

PACER – Federal court users are strongly encouraged open an online PACER account, which might be the most convenient and affordable option of all. Simply go to the PACER homepage and select the registration tab. The “registration wizard” will then walk you through the steps to get started. One must provide credit card information, or allow PACER to verify their address to allow for billing. Pacer will allow you to search and print district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts, and print filings from any of their districts and not just Minnesota. By Judicial Conference policy, if your usage does not exceed $15 in a quarter, fees are waived. PACER’s greatest value is in accessing filings for out-of-state districts, as opposed to having to contact the respective clerk’s office.  For additional information, you may want to print out this handy PACER users guide, or take their online training.

Westlaw –  We offer free Westlaw in the library, and our subscription offers much (but not comprehensive) federal case law coverage.  Federal case coverage available through Westlaw begins with 1790. At the district level this will be opinions only, but Westlaw does offer brief access for U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals cases.  And not all cases are available, as the Westlaw scope note states that “[c]overage varies by court.”  Westlaw allows free email delivery of documents, but not every document is offered with the email option.  We charge 15 cents per page for print jobs at the library.