MN Supreme Court: Courts Cannot Seal Executive Branch Records

Published On: 22nd May 2013

***The decision discussed below is not longer applicable in the State of Minnesota. The MN Legislature changed expungement laws as of January 1, 2015 allowing convictions to be expunged. Read about the current Minnesota expungement laws here.***

Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued their opinion in State v. MDT. The main question before the Supreme Court was whether a district court judge has the authority to order the executive branch to seal judicially created records of a conviction retained by law enforcement. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals by holding that the district court in this case exceeded the scope of its inherent authority to expunge records.

Based on a separation of powers analysis, the court stated, “the authority the judiciary has to control its own records does not give the judiciary inherent authority to reach into the executive branch to control what the executive branch does with records held in that branch, even when those records were created in the judiciary.” The court added that sealing executive branch records in this case is not necessary to perform a unique judicial function.

This decision reaffirms the fact that, outside of exceptional circumstances, when you admit guilt or are convicted of a crime in Minnesota, records retained by law enforcement reflecting the conviction will be accessible by the public even if the court records have been sealed.

You can read the entire Supreme Court opinion here.


Coley Grostyan is a Minneapolis based expungement lawyer who regularly represents individuals attempting to expunge criminal records in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs, and throughout the State of Minnesota.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
MN Supreme Court: Courts Cannot Seal Executive Branch Records