If you have ever practiced in Dakota County, you know that the judicial officers are assigned to a matter at the last minute and that the judicial officer will probably change with each court appearance. I had a contested divorce involving custody in Dakota County and due to the complex fact pattern I wanted to stick with the same judge that was present at the ICMC. Other attorneys told me that blocking a judge in Dakota County is simple: contact court administration, request the particular judge to remain the judicial officer on your matter, and you’re good to go.
It wasn’t that simple.
I contacted court administration. They told me I had to contact the judge directly. So I contacted the judge directly. At this point, opposing counsel objected to my request for blocking. The judge responded that she could only remain the judicial officer with an agreement from opposing counsel (which was not going to happen) or if I requested the blocking through First Judicial District Central Assignment. I contacted Central Assignment and they told me I had to contact the Chief Judge of Dakota County.
I contacted the Chief Judge, citing complexities in the case as the reason for my request, and was subsequently shot down. The Chief Judge explained that he would not assign a specific judicial officer unless both counsel agreed to the assignment or if it appeared that the matter was complex enough to warrant blocking; then he would assign a judicial officer at random.
After speaking with other attorneys who practice mostly in Dakota County, it seems that blocking occurs when there are complex financial components in business litigation case rather than in a contested divorce.
So if you are considering trying to block your family law case, I would advise you to expend your efforts elsewhere.