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City Attorney

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the City Attorney’s Office represent private citizens?
            No. The City Attorney's Office does not represent individuals in private legal matters nor does it give legal advice to any entity it does not represent.  Attorneys in the Office represent the City's Executive and Legislative Branch, officials, staff, City Departments, Boards and commissions, as well as its public authorities. In criminal prosecutions, the City Attorney represents the State of Minnesota.

Is the Duluth City Attorney’s office able to give me legal advice?
            No.  The attorneys within the Civil Litigation Division represent the City of Duluth and its officials, and are not able to provide legal advice to the private citizens. The attorneys in the Criminal Division are the prosecutors and represent the State of Minnesota in criminal prosecutions. For information about how to find an attorney who might represent you, please see Quick Links

Will you answer simple legal questions and/or explain the law as it relates to a particular issue? 
            The City Attorney's office is unable to provide to private citizens any legal advice, including interpretations of law. To find an attorney to represent your interests, please see Quick Links.

Where can I find the City Ordinances?
            City ordinance are located within the City's legislative and administrative code. City Charter and Legislative Code. 

Who accepts Service of Process on the City? 
            Service of process is governed by Rule 4.03(e)(2) of the Minnesota rules of civil Procedure or Rule 4(j)(2) of the Federal Rules of civil Procedure. Only the City Clerk or Mayor is authorized to accept service on behalf of the City of Duluth. Process may be delivered or mailed to the Office of the City Clerk, Room 330, 411 W. 1st St., Duluth, MN 55802.

What is the difference between the Duluth City Attorney’s Office and the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office? 
            The City Attorney's Office represents the City, its elected officials and staff, city departments and the city's independent boards, commission and authorities in all civil matters. The St. Louis County Attorney represents the County. In criminal prosecutions, the St. Louis County Attorney prosecutes all felonies, all other prosecutions that occur outside the City of Duluth, Hermantown or Proctor, and certain Gross Misdemeanors, no matter where they occur. 

Where can I find an attorney who might represent me and/or provide legal advice?
          You may contact the Lawyer Referral service of the Minnesota State Bar Association using these internet addresses: or by calling at 1-612-278-6325 if you need some assistance finding an attorney to help you with a legal matter.

Where can I find information about the Laws of Minnesota?   
            To find the laws of the State of Minnesota on the internet go to  You may also find useful information at the St. Louis County Law Library, located on the 5th floor of the St. Louis County Courthouse and open for use by the public. A librarian is available to provide some limited assistance to the public at (218)726-2611.

How do I complain about a consumer good that I purchased? 
            Contact the Minnesota State Attorney General’s office, Consumer Division Hotline at 651-296-3353 or 1-800-657-3787 for consumer protection assistance.

How do I file a claim against the City?
            You may call the Claims Adjuster at 218-730-5276. The matter will be examined by the city's claims adjuster and the status will be determined, usually within two to six weeks. The City may deny any claim where the claimant cannot prove negligence or where the city is immune from liability according to the laws of Minnesota.
How do I file a complaint against a Duluth Police Officer?
            The City Attorney’s Office has no jurisdiction over the Police Department. Contact the Duluth Police Customer Service desk during business hours at 218-730-5400.

How do I file a report that my neighbors property is an eyesore because of rubbish or disrepair? 
            Call Building Safety during business hours at 218-730-5300.

How do I report a crime?
            For crimes in progress or for an emergency, call 911. Violations of law, court orders, or reports of criminal activity must be made to a law enforcement agency such as the Duluth Police Department by calling 911.

As a victim of Domestic Assault, where can I get information and assistance?
            The Duluth Police Department has a Domestic Violence Response Team in the Family Crimes Unit – 218-730-5070. This is a coordinated program with Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (218-722-2781) and Safe Haven Shelter (218-728-6481) and both have information regarding local resources. See also, and

What information can I get from a police report?
            Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statues, Chapter 13, governs information in police reports, specifically, the section on law enforcement data, which is Minn. Stat. § 13.82.

How do I find out if there is a warrant against me?
            Call the St. Louis County Sheriff’s office at 218-726-2372. Arrange to "walk in" to clear the warrant and receive a new court date.

I have a first appearance or arraignment court date set.  When can I talk to the prosecutor to discuss the case? 
           A prosecutor is usually available to discuss your case at your first court appearance/arraignment.

How can I change my court date?
            If it is your first appearance/arraignment, call the Court Administrator at 218-726-2460 (option 4) and asked to change your court date. If you have no failures to appear, they will usually change it once to reasonably accommodate your schedule. If you need to change a subsequent appearance, such as pretrial, omnibus or court trial, and you are represented by attorney, call your attorney. If you are not represented by an attorney, you may call the prosecuting authority to arrange a different date.

What should I do if I missed my court date?
            If you are represented by an attorney, call your attorney. If you are representing yourself, or do not yet have an attorney representing you, call the Court Administrator at 218-726-2460 (option 4) to find out the status of your case. It is possible that a bench warrant was issued by the judge.

Where can I find out the status of an open and pending court case? 
            Call the St. Louis County Court Administrator at 218-726-2448. If you know it is a civil case, you may call 218-726-2430. If you know it is a criminal or traffic case, you may call 218-726-2460. If the case is closed, there may be information available at

What should I do if I have received a subpoena? 
            Call the contact information indicated on the subpoena. Subpoenas may be issued by a party in either a criminal case or a civil case. As a lawful court order, it requires the recipient to obey the instructions in the subpoena, so read your subpoena carefully. Failure to obey the subpoena constitutes contempt of court. If scheduling is an issue, call the contact person indicated on the subpoena. If your subpoena orders your appearance for testimony, bring your subpoena with you when you appear. The subpoena binds you to appear at every subsequent setting until the case is finally disposed. If you move or change your telephone number, please call the contact information indicated on the subpoena immediately.

As a victim of a crime, what if I change my mind about prosecuting or testifying?
            It is not the decision of the victim whether to prosecute a crime. A victim reports a crime and the police respond to that report. The police investigate and determine whether a crime has occurred.  It is up to the prosecuting authority whether the crime will be prosecuted. A crime committed against any person is a crime committed against at the people of the state. Our community and each of us individually deserve protection against criminal wrongdoers.  For this reason, the court can compel testimony of a victim or witness to a crime. A great deal of costly work will proceed and be wasted if a victim or witness does not testify. The loss of a case simply because a victim or witness drops out is a tragedy. Should you have any reluctance about testifying in a case, please discuss your concern with the prosecutor handling the case. If you are being threatened coerced to change your testimony, this may be witness tampering, which is another crime. Call 911 to report witness tampering and also call the City Attorney’s Office to speak to the attorney handling the case. Similarly, a false report of a crime is also a separate criminal violation.

Gunnar Johnson
City Attorney
City Hall, Room 410
411 West First Street
Duluth, MN


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