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Gildea, Stras, and Cutter in judicial primaries

by InformedVoter on August 14, 2012 · 3 comments

There will be two statewide judicial races and a Hennepin County trial-judge race on the back of the primary ballot tomorrow.  Here is just one person’s opinion on the three races.  ***  Please consider voting for Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, Justice David R. Stras, and for prosecutor Liz Cutter for an open trial-judge slot if you are in Hennepin County.  ***  CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT:  There are three candidates.   ***  JILL CLARK:  Jill Clark is a passionate advocate for the individual against the system, but she has run into severe physical and emotional health challenges and is facing temporary or permanent disbarment for allegedly unethical conduct that may have been caused by her mental health situation.  She has asked that her law license be suspended to “Disability inactive status” until she can show that she has recovered her health.  We wish her well, but she will not be a factor in this crucial race.  Clark’s website has been suspended for two months, but it is at: . ..  ***  DAN GRIFFITH:  Dan Griffith is a dangerous and duplicitous right-wing extremist.  Griffith  is now saying that he is running as a “non-partisan candidate, but Griffith is a militant right-winger.  Sarah Palin’s group RogueOnMinnesota has endorsed Griffith.  Various Tea Party Minnesota groups have endorsed Griffith.  The racists and religious bigots who follow Congressman Ron Paul have called Griffith one of the “top Ron Paul candidates in Minnesota.”    Griffith toured heavily on the “Tom Emmer for Governor” bus across the state in the closing weeks of the 2010 campaign.  Michael Brodkorb and Tony Sutton actively supported Griffith.  Griffith is on the board of a bait-and-switch anti-choice center that promises reproductive health care to women with crisis pregnancies but then slaps them with anti-choice guilt trips.  Griffith is on the board of a religious radio network in northern Minnesota and has appeared on stage with hate-mongering radio personality Bradlee Dean who has praised foreign governments that execute people for the crime of being gay.  Griffith has chosen to challenge Chief Justice Gildea because he claims that she is a “Liberal activist judge” she followed the facts and the law to join the unanimous Supreme Court in favor of U.S. Senator Al Franken in 2009 and because Chief Justice Gildea wrote the unanimous Supreme Court opinion that ended Tom Emmer’s recount fantasy in 2010.  Griffith’s website is at:   ***  CHIEF JUSTICE LORIE SKJERVEN GILDEA:  Although Gildea was appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2010, she has proven to be a non-partisan jurist who follows the facts and the law in each case and gives solid reasons for her holdings.  As noted, she was the Chief Author of the2010 opinion that ended Tom Emmer’s recount, and she was part of the unanimous 2009 opinion that declared Al Franken the winner of the 2008 U.S. Senate race.  Neither party knows how she will rule in any given case, and that is a good thing. Gildea has been trusted and hired by Independent Governor (Jesse Ventura named her to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission), DFL County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (who hired Gildea to prosecute white-collar criminals and people who preyed on vulnerable adults), and GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Beyond the partisan question, Gildea has been an effective leader for the judicial branch.  Working with Governor Mark Dayton and legislative leaders from both parties, she reversed years of budget cuts to the courts.  That has allowed Gildea to clear up years of backlogs in child custody cases, timely trials for criminal defendants, simple divorces that often took years to resolve, and staff cutbacks to the courts.  She has been an innovator in creating or implementing a variety of modernizations for the courts that will improve people’s access to the law and save taxpayer dollars.  She has earned your vote in tomorrow’s primary.  She has been endorsed by DFLers (Walter Mondale, Wendell Anderson, Don Fraser), Republicans (Rudy Boschwitz), and Independents (Tim Penny, Tom Horner, and Peter Hutchinson, as well as retired Chief Justices (Sandy Keith, Kathleen Blatz, Russell Anderson, and Erik Magnuson) and the Star Tribune.  Gildea’s website is at .  ***  ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT:  There are three candidates.  ***  ALAN NELSON:  There is a lot to admire about the philosophy of computer programmer and low-profile attorney Alan Nelson, but he is dead in the water.  He is a libertarian with the goal of knocking challenger Tim Tingelstad off the ballot in November.  Nelson advocates “separation of Church and State” in opposition to Tingelstad’s theocratic replacement of court precedents, legislative statues, and the $100 minimum required to file a report with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.  Thanks for participating again, Mr. Nelson, but if you care enough to defeat extremism, you have to care enough to put up your dukes.  Nelson’s website is at: .  ***  TIM TINGELSTAD:  As discussed in a diary entry here last week, Tingelstad is a religious and right-wing extremist who has run for a slot on the Minnesota Supreme Court many times before.  Tingelstad believes that judges should ignore court precedents, legislative statutes, and the Constitution in favor of the whispered “Word of God” as heard in each judge’s skull.  Tingelstad’s campaign committee is ridiculously named “Citizens for Truth and Light.”  Every penny of Tingelstad’s reported 2012 contributions comes from a right-wing fringe group called “The Ninth Judicial District Republican Committee.  Tingelstad’s website is at: .  ***  JUSTICE DAVID R. STRAS:  Although he was appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2010, Stras has turned out to be one of those “surprise moderate” appointments that vex Governors and Presidents.  Law Professor Peter Knapp reports that in cases  when the Minnesota Supreme Court is divided along perceived ideological lines, Stras votes with the liberal Justices (Alan Page, Paul, Anderson, and Helen Meyer) over 40% of the time and with the conservative Justices about 60% of the time.  At times, Justice Stras has been a “loose constructionist,” an “evolving constitution” interpretist, and an “activist judge” who places himself in the shoes of the Legislature, the  Executive Branch, or the parties who drafted a contract.  Justice Stras is not an extremist and is preferable to the extremist Tingelstad.  The Stras website is at: .  ***  HENNEPIN COUNTY TRIAL JUDGE:  If you live in Hennepin County, you get to vote in a four-way primary for an open trial-court slot on the Hennepin County District Court.  You are lucky to have four good choices of people who are ethical, experienced, and professional.  Three strong women from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and a trial lawyer respected by many judges and bipartisan observers of the legal profession are in the primary.  Unfortunately, you have to pick one tomorrow, so I hope you will pick Liz Cutter.  *** ELIZABETH V.  CUTTER:  Liz Cutter was the 2011 Lawyer of the Year.  She is a 24-year veteran of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, utter is the past president of the Minnesota Women Lawyers association.  She is a deeply respected appellate lawyer known for her well-researched briefs and her thoughtful arguments.  She has been on the front lines in prosecuting violent crimes.  Cutter has a deep list of supporters led by former Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minneapolis Council Member Lisa Goodman, and State Rep. Marion Greene.  Group endorsements include the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, law enforcement groups, and former leaders of bar associations and women’s groups.  The Cutter website is at: .  ***  DEBORAH RUSSELL:  Deborah Russell is a smart and tough-as-nails prosecutor who secured the conviction of Amy Senser in the criminal vehicular homicide case this spring.  She is endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.  The Russell website is at: .  ***  DIANE M. KRENZ:  Krenz is a 29-year veteran with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.  She has prosecuted violent crimes, worked with troubled children, and has been a leader in strengthening neighborhoods in Minneapolis and Eden Prairie by getting prosecutors to work with law enforcement, social workers, and community volunteers and faith groups.  She has been an active leader in AFSCME.  Her list of supporters is not as deep or broad as those of Cutter and Russell, but it reflects respect for her career and commitment.  The Krenz website is at: .  ***  STEVEN E. ANTOLAK:  A former prosecutor, Angola is respected for the quality of his arguments and preparation by many Hennepin County judges.  For over 20 years, he has been one of those old-fashioned single=lawyer practitioners sought out by knowledgeable clients who need a good trial lawyer. The Angola website is at: .

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