Legal Memorandum: Principle of Judicial Comity

Issue: Would the principle of judicial comity require that a court decline consideration of evidence challenging a family court judge’s dissolution order?

Area of Law: Family Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Judicial comity; Judcial decisions; Dissolution order
Jurisdiction:  Minnesota
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2012

Judicial comity is the respect one court shows to another in giving effect to the other’s judicial decisions.  Medtronic, Inc. v. Advanced Bionics Corp., 630 N.W.2d 438, 449 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001) (citing Black’s Law Dictionary 262 (7th ed. 1999)).  “Comity is not a formal rule but rather an informal policy of deference.”  Id. at 449.  See also Minn. Mut. Life Ins. v. Anderson, 410 N.W.2d 80, 82 (Minn. Ct. App. 1987) (also stating that comity is not a strict rule of law, but a principle).  It reflects a blend of courtesy and expediency.  Id. at 82 (citing Medtronic, Inc. v. Catalyst Research Corp., 518 F. Supp. 946, 955 (D. Minn.), aff’d, 664 F.2d 660 (8th Cir. 1981)).    

A family court judge has the authority to either totally or partially reject the terms of a Marital Termination Agreement, rather than incorporating those terms in the court’s judgment and decree.  See Karon v. Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501, 503 (Minn. 1989), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Loo v. Loo, 520 N.W.2d 740 & n.1 (Minn. 1994). 

The trial court stands in place and on behalf of the citizens of the state as a third party to dissolution actions.  It has a duty to protect the interests of both parties and all the citizens of the state to ensure that the stipulation is fair and reasonable to all.


Karon, 435 N.W.2d at 503; Loo, 520 N.W.2d at […]

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