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Stories about Minnesota

Justice Paul Thissen will run for a full term on the Minnesota Supreme Court

On May 19, 2020, Justice Paul Thissen announced that he had filed to run in the 2020 election for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“I am excited to launch my campaign, even in these trying circumstances… My first years as a justice have confirmed how deeply our courts touch the lives of Minnesotans in the most fundamental ways,” Thissen said.

Thissen filed for the ballot by mail due to changes that the state made to its election procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The filing period is open until 5 p.m. on June 2.

Judges of the Minnesota Supreme Court are chosen in nonpartisan elections to six-year terms. Interim vacancies are filled via gubernatorial appointment. Appointed judges serve until the next general election occurring more than one year after their appointment. They may then stand for election to a full term, and other candidates may file to run against them. Each current member of the state supreme court was initially appointed rather than elected.

Thissen was first appointed to the court in 2018 by Gov. Mark Dayton (D). He was appointed to fill the vacancy of Justice David Stras, who was appointed by President Donald Trump (R) to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Thissen was Gov. Dayton’s fifth appointment to the state supreme court.

The primary election for Justice Thissen’s seat on the state supreme court will take place on August 11, 2020. The general election for the seat will take place on November 3, 2020.

Before becoming a state supreme court justice, Thissen was a registered member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party and served in the state legislature for eight terms.

He served as Speaker of the House and Minority Leader. He ran for governor in 2010 but suspended his campaign when he was considered as an applicant to fill the vacancy on the state supreme court.

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Minnesota Gov Tim Walz (D) appoints Gordon Moore to state Supreme Court

On May 15, 2020 Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced District Court Justice Gordon Moore as his first appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justice David Lillehaug intends to resign in July 2020, and Justice Moore will take his seat on the bench.

Lillehaug has served on the Minnesota Supreme Court since 2013, and announced that he would retire due to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. If Justice Lillehaug had not resigned from the court, he would face nonpartisan election to keep his seat on the bench.

There are seven justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justices in Minnesota are selected through nonpartisan elections, but in the case of a vacancy the governor appoints a replacement. Each justice currently sitting on the Minnesota Supreme Court was initially placed on the court by the governor to fill a vacancy. Five of the seven justices have been appointed by Democratic governors, and two have been appointed by Republican governors.

When Gov. Walz announced Justice Moore’s appointment, said, “Supreme Court Justices decide some of the most pressing and significant questions of our time, and the feedback from Judge Moore’s peers was resounding: he is a brilliant jurist and a leader in his community. He has spent his career working hard for the people of Southern Minnesota, and he will bring a fair and respected voice to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

In addition to his judicial experience, Justice Moore served as special assistant and assistant attorney general under Attorney General Skip Humphrey, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Although the appointment of Justice Moore means that Minnesotans will not vote in a nonpartisan election to fill Justice Lillehaug’s seat, Paul Thissen will be subject to retention through nonpartisan election on November 3, 2020.

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Minnesota governor extends stay-at-home order

On April 30, 2020, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order was extended through May 18. Prior to the announcement, the stay-at-home order was in effect through May 4.
So far, 43 of the 50 states issued statewide shutdown orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.
Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.


Judge Segal appointed chief judge of Minnesota Court of Appeals

Gov. Tim Walz (D) appointed judge Susan Segal as chief judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals on April 13. Segal will serve the remainder of Edward J. Cleary’s term as chief of the court, which ends on October 31, 2022. Cleary announced his retirement effective April 30 in the fall of 2019.

Segal becomes the second woman to serve as chief judge in the 36 years since the advent of the court. Walz first appointed her to the appellate court in November 2019 following the retirement of Jill Flaskamp Hallbrooks. Segal previously worked as an attorney at several firms and served as the Minneapolis City Attorney for twelve years.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals, created in 1983, is the intermediate appellate court in Minnesota and was designed to relieve the volume of cases that go to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals’ decisions are the final ruling in about 95 percent of the 2,000 to 2,400 appeals filed every year. Typically, approximately 5 percent of the court’s decisions are accepted by the Minnesota Supreme Court for further review.

The judges on the court are nonpartisan, but party-affiliated governors select the members of the bench. Of the nineteen judges currently serving on the court, 12 were appointed by Democratic governors and seven were appointed by Republican governors.

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