Adjudicative Options

Arbitration. A process in which each party in a dispute and their attorney present their position before a neutral third party, who makes a decision. The process is often less formal that a trial in court, and it is highly tailored to fit the particular issues involved. Furthermore, if the parties agree in advance, the award is binding and is enforceable in the same manner as any contractual obligation. If the parties do not stipulate that the award is binding, the award is advisory and a request for trial de novo (trial in the Minnesota District Court) may be made by any party. Ms. Manrique is a qualified Arbitrator under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. Most participants interested in arbitration retain her for a binding process or the Hybrid ADR process of Mediation/Arbitration.

Consensual Special Magistrate. A process in which a dispute is presented to a neutral third party in the same manner as a civil lawsuit is presented to a judge. This process is binding and includes the right of appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. A Consensual Special Magistrate serves by appointment of the Minnesota District Court to fulfill all the case management and adjudicatory functions of the judge of record. The judge of record will counter-sign the decision of the CSM, but will not change the decision. In other words, cases resolved by Consensual Special Magistrate have all the procedural protections of a trial in district court, but the process is conducted in the privacy of the office of the CSM and on a schedule tailored to meet the time preferences of the parties and counsel.

The CSM process is ideal when cases involve very complex legal issues, extensive marital estate portfolios, sensitive matters pertaining to children, or high-profile participants. The parties and counsel commit at the outset to keep the case out of the court system. It also is true that detailed discovery of more information usually is crucial before it will be possible to resolve the case. The pre-trial work often requires careful case management by the CSM as the parties seek, for example, access to proprietary business information, asset valuation work by experts, depositions of necessary but reluctant witnesses, or information located in foreign jurisdictions. In regard to children, the complexities may be due to mental health issues, death or absence of a parent, high-risk behaviors, or chemical use and attendant criminal and juvenile court proceedings.

In these types of cases, Ms. Manrique’s experience from her years as a judge can ensure that a thoughtful, detailed, and efficient case management plan is devised. After the plan is implemented, many cases resolve without the need for a full trial because the disclosure of pertinent information yields a mutually acceptable outcome. Even when that does not occur, the parties often stipulate to a number of issues and thereby narrow the scope of what actually must be submitted for trial. Ms. Manrique’s experience on the court ensures that the trial will adhere to the rules of procedure and evidence, that an adequate record will be made, and that the final written decision will include detailed findings of fact, conclusions of law and orders.

Moderated Settlement Conference. A process in which each party and their attorneys present their positions before a panel of neutral third parties. The panel may issue a non-binding advisory opinion. The process also may be managed by one neutral, rather than a panel. Ms. Manrique generally is retained to conduct the process solely. This process often is effective when cases are on the eve of trial, as a last resort option to pursue settlement. The use of this process in family law cases is expanding. As Presiding Judge of the Family Court in the Fourth Judicial District, Ms. Manrique worked closely with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to implement a pilot project to bring this process to courts around the State.