Please pay back the filing fees!

I was viewing some documents on the MN Judicial Branch website last night.  I was reminded, by a First Judicial District newsletter (see page below), of the following language of the Minnesota Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 8.

REDRESS OF INJURIES OR WRONGS. Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive to his person, property or character, and to obtain justice freely and without purchase, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformable to the laws.

imageSo, given this plain text of the Constitution, how could the MN Legislature have ever passed a statute requiring the payment of filing fees?   Do they have researchers over there?  Does the MN Legislature do a review of the Constitution before it sends bills to committee?

I am not sure how there can be any filing fees, at all, in civil cases.  (I’ll discuss the supposed “payables” and “fines” that are heaped on the public in so-called criminal and traffic court, as a way to make money for the State, in other posts.)

So if no filing fees at all are allowed, how did we get to a place where the MN Legislature amended the filing fee to increase it, so that parties pay at times thousands of dollars, just in filing fees?  See Minn. Stat. 357.021.

It used to be that only the first party to file the case paid a filing fee.  Under Governor Pawlenty, the fees went up and up.  Now all parties in civil cases must pay filing fees.  (I tried to file a motion to quash a subpoena in a case in which my firm was not even a party, and I was told I had to pay a filing fee of over $300.00.)

Plus, there is a “motion” fee.  It was $55.00 per motion – that was bad enough.  Then it went to $100 per motion filed, and to respond to a motion.

And judges around the State of Minnesota sat by and watched all of this.  And Court Administration cooperated with collecting fees (and worse, more on that later), and transmitting them to the general fund.  Did anyone read the Minnesota Constitution?

The problem with having judges involved in administration, is that (it seems to me) they take off their judge hat, and put on some adminstrator hat.  I am not sure yet what that means to them, but what I am finding as I look, is not pretty.

How could there be so many judges, so many law clerks (paid to research the law) and yet years, and years of public-paid filing fees.  I have bemoand the lack of real service the customer of the court gets when paying those fees, but I’ll comment more on that later.  It seems, as a start, the People of the State of Minnesota deserve their money back!