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MINNESOTA JUDGE RACES – Please Forward

by InformedVoter on November 1, 2012 · 5 comments

If this makes sense to you, please forward it to your whole Minnesota e-mail list.  The corporate media have ignored Minnesota’s eight judicial elections.  Don’t let your friends be low-information voters.

These are just my opinions.  But they are based on research.  Where I say something harsh about one of these challengers, I can prove it with a web citation from a solid source, or from a court transcript.

First, I will make the eight recommendations, and then I will offer solid reasons to support them.  The websites for each candidate are listed at the end, so you can check them out for yourself.

I apologize for the length of the description of the Chief Justice race, but it is most important because it is the race to be not just a judge, but to be the administrative head of the whole Minnesota judicial system that affects all of us.  But I will provide good reasons for the recommendations in all eight races.

SUPREME COURT – – EVERYONE INMINNESOTA VOTES ON THESE THREE RACES

1. Please support Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea.  Please oppose Dan Griffith.

2. Please support Associate Justice David R. Stras.  Please oppose Tim Tngelstad.

3. Please support Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson.  Please oppose Dean Barkley.

HENNEPIN COUNTY – – TWO MORE RACES

4. Please support Elizabeth Cutter.  Please oppose Steven Antolak.

5. Please support Lois Conroy.  Please oppose Marc Berris.

SOUTHWEST SUBURBS AND EXURBS – – TWO MORE RACES

These two races will be decided by voters in seven counties:  Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, and Sibley.  

6. Please support Judge Katheryn Messerich.  Please oppose Brian Gravely.

7. Please support Judge Diane Hanson.  Please oppose Michael L. Larson.

NORTHWEST MINNESOTA – – ONE MORE RACE

This race will be decided by voters in 17 counties in northwest Minnesota:  Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.

8. Please support challenger Diana Sweeney.  Please oppose Judge John G. Melbye.

It should be noted that even conservative bloggers are urging voters to support the three Supreme Court incumbents (Gildea, Stras, and Anderson) against the three challengers (Griffith, Tingelstad, and Barkley) who are being supported by the extreme-right insurgents.  

***Editor’s Note:  Dean Barkley has been endorsed by OutFrontMinnesotaAction***

Minneapolis attorney Harry Niska wrote extensively in three entries on the conservative True North website.  

Michael Brodkorb wrote at his Politics.mn blog in praise of the action by GOP State Chairman Patrick Shortridge in chastising the extremists for posting false “GOP recommendations” of the challengers who would not have passed a full and legitimate vetting by the GOP this year.

FIRST, THE RACE FOR CHIEF JUSTICE – – SUPPORT INCUMBENT LORIE SKJERVEN GILDEA

You can get more details on this race at: http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea has done a Good Job

1. She has been an effective administrative manager of the judicial branch in eliminating back-logs of cases that were letting serious criminals walk free because they did not get a speedy trial, in saving kids who were waiting up to a year for permanent home placements, and were making people wait for up to three years for a simple divorce.

2. She has been a solid innovator in modernizing our courts to save tax dollars, improve our access to the courts, and focus court resources on serving the public.

3. She has been an independent and impartial judge who does not let party politics interfere with the administration of justice.  Leaders from all three parties have endorsed her in this race.  

4. She has been a respected legal researcher and writer whose opinions are solid, clear, and concise, even if you disagree with their holdings.

5. She has been a pragmatic leader in crises when politics have led to such grid-locks as: the 2008 recount in the Franken-Coleman race, the 2010 recount in the Dayton-Emmer race, the 2011 government shutdown; and the 2012 redistricting battles.

6. She has been a force for stability in the law which you need to protect your individual rights, your expectations that your contracts will be enforced, and your property.  Her “strict construction of the law” approach does not allow her to make up the law based on personal whims.  She applies the facts of each case to the law in each case and writes reliable decisions.

7. She is a civil and decent person who respects others.  Over in Wisconsin, Supreme Court Justices are choking each other in their chambers and battling each other in the headlines.  Lorie Skjerven Gildea has been a firm voice for civility by judges, lawyers and litigants in Minnesota.

8. She has depth and breadth of experience as an international lawyer, a trial and appellate lawyer for the University of Minnesota, a prosecutor of white-collar criminals and vicious predators in Hennepin County, a trial judge, an appellate judge, and as Chief Justice.

9. She has been a positive advocate for an effective judiciary, as she has worked well with Governor Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson, 201 legislators from both parties, 315 judges, and 8,000 Minnesota lawyers for the budget and policy reforms needed by our courts.

10. She has been a strong voice for strengthening our society by raising the role of women both in the legal profession and as participants in our courts.

As Chief Justice, “Shifty Dan” Griffith would be a Disaster

1. Integrity:  Griffith was found guilty and fined $1,000 for telling six lies to the court in a child welfare case in International Falls.

2. Integrity:  Griffith was held to have lied to that same judge in an earlier case, as reflected in the transcript of the child welfare case.

3. Integrity:  Griffith now tries to justify his lies to the court by claiming that the judge was prejudiced against him and his client, but that ignores the fact that a lawyer or client can automatically get a new judge in Minnesota by filing a simple motion under the court rules.  Griffith’s failure to file such a motion is not an excuse for his dishonesty on the record in court.

4. Integrity:  Griffith denied this year that he had lost a unanimous vote by the lawyers in his home company during his 2010 race against Judge Larry Stauber of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  That lie was revealed when a 2010 article from the International Falls Journal revealed that the unanimous vote did happen and that even Griffith had failed to vote for himself.

5. Integrity:  Griffith claims to be running as a non-partisan candidate for Chief Justice who would not let party politics interfere with the courts, even though he sought the Republican endorsement for his 2012 race and has run with GOP endorsement or financial support in his four previous failed races for state-wide judicial office.

6. Integrity:  This year Griffith denied that he campaigned alongside Tom Emmer and the “Emmer for Governor” bus in 2010, only to have photos published showing him doing just that.

7. Integrity:  This year, Griffith denied memory of campaigning alongside infamous GOP leader Michael Brodkorb at a 2010 “Governors for Emmer” rally in Blaine.  Griffith’s credibility was damaged again when photos appeared showing him grinning next to Brodkorb after Brodkorb introduced him at the largest GOP rally of the 2010 race.

8. Integrity:  This year, Griffith denied campaigning alongside Kurt Bills in his race against U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar at events in Duluth, Two Harbors, and Proctor, only to have his own advertising and GOP notice of his joint appearances with Bills revealed.

9. Integrity:  This year, Griffith has denied campaigning alongside Chip Cravaack in his race against Congressman Rick Nolan, only to have his own advertising reveal that he was campaigned alongside Cravaack at “Republican Victory Office” events across northern Minnesota.  Griffith even advertised that he was going to be a major speaker at the Reagan Dinner at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center where Chip Cravaack was the keynote speaker.

10. Independence:   This year, Griffith has changed most of his campaign rhetoric to deny his strong ties to the far-right, but his July campaign finance report showed that 100% of his identified cash donations came from the Republican Committee of the Ninth Judicial District.

11. Independence:  This year, Griffith has changed most of his campaign rhetoric to deny his strong ties to the far-right, but his October campaign finance report showed that the vast majority of his identified cash donations came from the Republican Committee of the Ninth Judicial District or the campaign funds of a Republican-endorsed candidate.

12. INDEPENDENCE:  This year, Griffith has changed most of his campaign rhetoric to deny his strong ties to the far-right, but there is video of him at the 2012 Republican State Convention in St. Cloud last May where Griffith addressed the delegates on both days to seek the Republican endorsement.

13. IMPARTIALITY:  This year, Griffith is denying that he would bring a far-right religious agenda to his work as Chief Justice, but Griffith has erased from his campaign website a quote that “judges should be Christians.”

14. IMPARTIALITY:  This year, Griffith is denying that he would bring a far-right religious agenda to his work as Chief Justice, but Griffith has erased from his campaign website a quote that “above all, Americans should elect Christians.”

15. IMPARTIALITY:  This year, Griffith is denying that he would bring a far-right religious agenda to his work as Chief Justice, but Griffith has erased from his campaign website a quote that “he would be a good judge because he is a Christian.”

16. IMPARTIALITY:  This year, Griffith is denying that he would bring a far-right religious agenda to his work as Chief Justice, but Griffith has no longer emphasizes on his campaign website that he is a Director of a “Life Center” that advertises reproductive services for women with problem pregnancies but which actually delivers “Christian” lectures and sermons.

17. IMPARTIALITY:  This year, Griffith is denying that he would bring a far-right religious agenda to his work as Chief Justice, but Griffith has no longer emphasizes on his campaign website that he is a Director of a “drug dependency and treatment” program that takes a “Christian” approach to “pray the meth away.”

18. IMPARTIALITY:  This year, Griffith is denying that he would bring a far-right religious agenda to his work as Chief Justice, but Griffith has no longer emphasizes on his campaign website that he is a Director of a religious-based radio station with affiliates across northern Minnesota and southern Canada that programs and preaches a hell-fire “Christian” agenda.

19. INEXPERRIENCE:  Griffith wants to be the Chief Justice and head of the Minnesota judicial system, even though he has never been a trial judge, and appellate judge, or a Supreme Court justice.

20. INEXPERRIENCE:  Griffith wants to be the Chief Justice and head of the Minnesota judicial system, even though he has never researched or written a judicial opinion, an extended legal document on a complex legal issue, or a scholarly article for a legal journal.

21. INEXPERRIENCE:  Griffith wants to be the Chief Justice and head of the Minnesota judicial system who works with 2,500 court employees at over 100 court locations, even though he has never managed anything more complex than a part-time law practice with a lone secretary.

22. INEXPERRIENCE:  Griffith wants to be the Chief Justice and head of the Minnesota judicial system with a budget of over $250 million, even though he has never managed anything significant and has announced no plans for the next budget that he would have to send to the Legislature and the Governor in eight weeks.

23. INTELLECT:  The Chief Justice needs a strong mind to work with thousands of strong minds in the courts, the state government, and the legal profession.  But Griffith took from 1980 until 1988 to finish the undergraduate studies that usually take just four years for a focused person because Griffith spent most of the 1980s riding around St. Paul on his motorcycle.  Griffith apparently graduated without honors and near the bottom of his class.

24. INTELLECT:  The Chief Justice needs a strong mind to work with thousands of strong minds in the courts, the state government, and the legal profession.  But Griffith took from 1988 to 1993 to finish his law degree which most focused people earn in three years.  Griffith apparently graduated without honors and near the bottom of his class.

25. INTELLECT:  For the first two months (June-July) of his five-month campaign to be Chief Justice this year, Griffith’s campaign website said his was running to be “an appellate judge” on the “Minnesota Court of Appeals.”  He only changed it when lawyers started making fun of him.  His website still has the address of www.griffithforjudge,com  even though Griffith is running for Chief Justice.

26. INCOMPETENCE:  The Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and the head of the Minnesota judicial system must demonstrate leadership and inspire confidence. “Shifty Dan” Griffith would become a world-wide joke because of his grotesque problems with integrity, independence, impartiality, inexperience, intellect, and incompetence.

SECOND, THE RACE FOR ASSOCIATE JUSTICE – – SUPPORT INCUMBENT DAVID R. STRAS

You can get more details at http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Three reasons to support Justice David R. Stras

1. EXPERIENCE:  Justice Stras has done the job well for two years.  He has proven his ability to grasp complex issues, ask probing questions at oral argument, and write clear, decisive and reasoned opinions, dissents and concurrences.  

2. MODERATION:  Although Justice Stras is a conservative, he has been the swing vote on many of the 4-3 decisions by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  Law professor Peter Knapp studies the divided decisions of the Court, and he reports that Justice Stras sides with the three liberal judges on about forty percent of the divided decisions.

3. DEPTH AND BREADTH:  Before joining the Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice Stras had a distinguished career as a top professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, as a trial and appellate lawyer with a top Minneapolis law firm, as an intellectual leader of the national Federalist Society, and as a top scholar in both his undergraduate and law school studies.

Five reasons to oppose Tim Tingelstad

1. Theocracy:  Tim Tingelstad has vowed to “bring the Truth of God to Minnesota’s highest courts.”

2. Theocracy:  Tim Tingelstad has vowed to place the “Word of God” ahead of the U.S. Constitution, the Minnesota Constitution, the laws passed by our legislative representatives, the court precedents on which we rely, and the administrative rules that protect our rights, our property, and our lives.  

3. Inexperience:  Tim Tingelstad has never researched or written a judicial opinion on complex legal issues or a probing article for a law journal, which is at the heart of the job he is seeking.  He has served as a family court magistrate, where his recommendations on property settlements and child custody must be reviewed and approved by a real judge.  But Tingelstad has no significant experience in complex legal writing.

4. Narrow Experience:  Aside from his magisterial work in Bemidji, Tingelstad’s legal career has not included major cases, ground-breaking legal issues, or significant accomplishments.  As a Supreme Court Justice, Tingelstad would have little or no experience in handling 700 cases per year that seek review at the highest level.  He would have little or no experience in evaluating the contested work by real trial court judges or the opinions of the Court of Appeals.

5. Independence:  Supreme Court Justices should keep party politics out of our courtrooms.  But Tingelstad has run for state-wide judicial office before with strong GOP endorsement or support.  He sought the Republican endorsement at the GOP State Convention last May.  Judges should focus on the law and not a party platform.

THIRD, THE RACE FOR ASSOCIATE JUSTICE – – SUPPORT INCUMBENT G. BARRY ANDERSON

You can get more details at http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Three reasons to support Justice G. Barry Anderson

1. EXPERIENCE:  Justice Anderson has proved to be a solid researcher and a strong writer on complex legal issues during his six years as an appellate judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals and his eight years on the Minnesota Supreme Court.  You may not agree with all of his decisions, but he is respected in the legal community for writing clear, concise, and consistent opinions, dissents, and concurrences.

2. DEEP LEGAL UNDERSTANDING:  In an extended legal career before he took the bench, G. Barry Anderson had broad and deep experience on complex legal cases as a prosecutor, a defender, and a private attorney who counseled private persons and large organizations.

3. STABILITY:  Most people in the legal community who know him will tell you that G. Barry Anderson is an affable person who is involved in many efforts to improve the legal profession in particular and our society in general.  But many of those same people will also tell you that he is not a “live wire” when it comes to his private life.  He is “as sober as a judge.”

Eight reasons to oppose Dean Barkley as a Supreme Court Justice

1. STABILITY:  (Deleted, by TPT.  I will not tolerate attacks of this nature.)

2. STABILITY:  (Deleted, by TPT.  I will not tolerate attacks of this nature.)

3. STABILITY:  (Deleted, by TPT.  No links? No proof.)

4. NOT A RESPECTED LAWYER:  (Deleted, by TPT. Commentary submitted does not support the claim.)

5. NOT A SUCCESSFUL LAWYER:  (Partial deletion; commentary submitted does not support the claim.)Dean Barkley has worked as the night manager of the Mermaid car wash, the manager of a convenience store, a bus driver for Metro Mobility, a boat salesman, a furniture salesman and manager of his family’s store, and a lobbyist for Big Tobacco and casinos.

6. NOT A BUSY LAWYER: (Deleted, by TPT. Commentary submitted does not support the claim.)

7. NOT A LEGAL WRITER: (Deleted, by TPT. Commentary submitted does not support the claim.)

8. TOO POLITICAL, ANDNOT VERY GOOD AT IT:  Dean Barkley has run for a number of political offices  under different banners and philosophies, and he would bring his weird ideas to the Supreme Court. He ran against Congressman Gerry Sikorski and Rod Grams in 1992, tilting the decision to Grams.  He ran against U.S. Senator Rod Grams and Rep. Ann Wynia in 1994, tilting the decision again to Grams.  He ran against U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and Rudy Boschwitz in 1996, almost tipping the election to Boschwitz.  He ran against U.S. Senator Al Franken and Norm Coleman in 2008, definitely tipping the race to Senator Franken.  Barkley’s interest is in politics and not the serious practice of law.  He is good at neither.  Dean Barkley claims credit for the election of Governor Jesse Ventura, but he did not build that.  (See comment, below – TPT)

FOURTH, HENNEPIN COUNTY’S FIRST RACE FOR TRIAL JUDGE- – SUPPORT ELIZABETH CUTTER

You can get more details at http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Seven reasons to support challenger Elizabeth V. Cutter

1. She was chosen as “the Minnesota Lawyer of the Year for 2011″ by Minnesota Lawyer.

2. She has taken on gangs and community crime for 24 years as a senior prosecutor in the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney.

3. Before that, she was one of the “young lionesses” as an Assistant Attorney General in the office of Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey.

4. Before that she graduated with honors in Law School, and while earning a bachelor degree and a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Minnesota.

5. She has been a leader in combatting domestic violence both in Minnesota and on the national and international levels.  She has trained prosecutors, police, and activists in Nigeria, Kiribati, Moldova, Turkey, and Kazakhstan.

6. She has bipartisan support of respected leaders and the endorsements of the Police Officers’ Federation of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Latino Police Officers’ Association.

7. She is a visionary leader who will not just be very competent in managing a court room.  She will be a respected voice for needed reforms.

Two reasons to oppose challenger Steven Antolak

1. INDEPENDENCE:  It has just come to light that Antolak may be a closet candidate of the far-right.  It appears that he worked with an extremist faction of the Repu1blican Party that has been denounced by Republican Party of Minnesota chair Patrick Shortridge for posting an error-filled “GOP voters guide” that said Antolak was a “Republican recommended” candidate after the GOP State Convention voted to not endorse candidates for judicial office. Antolak’s allies apparently broke into the state party’s data bases, used confidential e-mail lists, and made up an organization and job title to lend credibility to their bogus voter guide.

2. JUDICIAL ACTIVISM:  Despite Antolak’s claims to be a “strict constructionist” who would apply the facts and the law to each case without expressing political or personal views, Antolak’s entry in the bogus voter guide indicates that he will support or oppose certain Constitutional amendments and legislation which could appear before him if he were elected judge.

FIFTH, HENNEPIN COUNTY’S SECOND RACE FOR TRIAL JUDGE- – SUPPORT LOIS CONROY

You can get more details at http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Four reasons to support challenger Lois Conroy

1. Lois Conroy is a recognized voice for change and public safety who is listened to by leaders of Hennepin County. She answers Bobby Kennedy’s question of why or why not by coming up with answers that work. She launched the “Downtown 100″ program to bring together cops, prosecutors, probation officers, social workers, medical professionals, and housing specialists who not only cracked down on the 100 people who committed the most “life style crimes” in the 120-block area of downtown Minneapolis, but cut the repeater status of these brawlers and addicts by increasing their access to housing, mental health care, and job counseling. The Star Tribune featured her work under the headline: “Downtown has never been safer, cleaner, or greener.” By allowing a single prosecutor to follow the same Downtown offender all the way through the process, Conroy’s “Downtown 100 program improved the quality of life on our streets and reduced recidivism and law enforcement costs.

2. Murder and mayhem were the targets when Lois Conroy won national awards for the “Court Watch” program she launched with the Minneapolis Police Department to focus on rising homicide and violent crime rates in the “Little White Earth” community of Native Americans in the city. The program dedicated specific prosecutors to cases of habitual offenders and recommended sentencing provisions such as geographic limits on convicts whose escalating violence needed to be checked. The program was so successful that it has been expanded to seven other ethnic neighborhoods where murder and violent crime rates are falling.

3. Putting away the “worst of the worst” small-time criminals has been Lois Conroy’s work as a front-line prosecutor for 14 years as she has won convictions for violent crimes, domestic violence, and expensive repeat offenses by chronic offenders.

4. Strengthening the legal profession as an educator has been important to Lois Conroy. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School in its Domestic Abuse Prosecution Clinic, and instructor in the community crime prevention seminars of the APA, and a leader in the youth education programs of the University of Minnesota’s Extension Service programs.

Four reasons to oppose challenger Marc Berris

1. INDEPENDENCE:  It has just come to light that Berris may be a closet candidate of the far-right.  It appears that he worked with an extremist faction of the Repu1blican Party that has been denounced by Republican Party of Minnesota chair Patrick Shortridge for posting an error-filled “GOP voters guide” that said Berris was a “Republican recommended” candidate after the GOP State Convention voted to not endorse candidates for  judicial office.  Berris’ allies apparently broke into the state party’s data bases, used confidential e-mail lists, and made up an organization and job title to lend credibility to their bogus voter guide.

2. JUDICIAL ACTIVISM:  Despite Berris’ claim to be a “strict constructionist” who would apply the facts and the law to each case without expressing political or personal views, his apparent entry in the bogus voter guide indicates that he will support or oppose certain Constitutional amendments and legislation which could appear before him if he were elected judge.

3. The legal experience of Marc Berris is not as broad or deep as that of Lois Conroy. He seems like a really good guy who has spread his career and energy across many other areas, such as being a jailer in the Hennepin County jail, a deputy for sheriffs in two counties, a firefighter, and an assistant to students with autism. But he has less “actual flight time” as a lawyer than Lois Conroy.

4. Berris does not have any significant accomplishments in law and policy that compare to Lois Conroy’s recognized success with the “Downtown 100″ and “Court Watch” programs.

SIXTH, RACE FOR TRIAL JUDGE IN SOUTHWEST SUBURBS AND EXURBS- – JUDGE MESSERICH

This race will be decided by voters in seven counties:  Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, and Sibley.  

You can get more details at http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Eight reasons to support Judge Kathryn D. Messerich

1. BROAD LIFE EXPERIENCE: Before she went to law school, Judge Messerich worked as a critical care burse for seven years. She was a member of the University of Minnesota Pediatric Transport Team which provided critical care transport and treatment to children in a five-state region. While working full-time, she earned a Master of Science degree in Nursing.

2. DEEP LEGAL EXPERIENCE: Judge Messerich was a top trial lawyer in civil litigation focusing on cases related to health care. She was President of the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association in 2001-2002.

3. AN ETHICAL LAWYER: Before she became a judge, she served on the Fourth Judicial District’s Ethics Committee for 11 years and served as the committee’s Vice Chair in 2003.

4. AN EXPERIENCED JUDGE: Judge Messerich has presided over every kind of case since her appointment in 2004. This includes over 1,000 cases involving criminal prosecutions, family law, civil disputes, and constitutional questions.

5. VETERANS ADVOCATE: Judge Messerich has served as a volunteer judge on the Veterans Court that has been organized by the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (“MACV”) that allows veterans charged with crimes related to their post-service traumas to be diverted from criminal sentences and helps them to get the counseling and treatment they need to reconvert to civilian society. This saves taxpayer dollars and provides important support to many veterans.

6. PEOPLE WITH CHEMICAL DEPENDENCIES: Judge Messerich currently presides over a docket that includes Adult Felony Drug Court (which seeks to avoid repeat offenses by teaming defendants with prosecutors, social workers, health professionals, and defenders), Family Dependency Court (which brings families into the work of rehabilitating criminal defendants

7. RESPECTED LEGAL SCHOLAR: Judge Messerich has been appointed as Chair of the Supreme Court’s advisory committee that reviews the General Rules of Practice that guide the practice of law in Minnesota’s 87 trial courts. She has also been appointed as Vice Chair of the state’s committee that reviews and updates the models of civil jury instructions that trial judges use at the end of a jury trial.

8. BROAD AND DEEP SUPPORT: Judge Messerich has been endorsed by the esteemed Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota, which is a group of the top 150 trial lawyers in the state. She has the backing of former Chief Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Kathleen Blatz and Eric Magnuson. She is also backed by hundreds of civic leaders from both political parties.

Five reasons to oppose challenger Brian Gravely

1. INDEPENDENCE:  It has just come to light that Gravely may be a closet candidate of the far-right.  It appears that he worked with an extremist faction of the Repu1blican Party that has been denounced by Republican Party of Minnesota chair Patrick Shortridge for posting an error-filled “GOP voters guide” that said Gravely was a “Republican recommended” candidate after the GOP State Convention voted to not endorse candidates for  judicial office.  Gravely’s allies apparently broke into the state party’s data bases, used confidential e-mail lists, and made up an organization and job title to lend credibility to their bogus voter guide.

2. JUDICIAL ACTIVISM:  Despite Gravely’s claim to be a “strict constructionist” who would apply the facts and the law to each case without expressing political or personal views, his apparent entry in the bogus voter guide indicates that he will support or oppose certain Constitutional amendments and legislation which could appear before him if he were elected judge.

3. NO EXPERIENCE: State records indicate that Gravely was admitted to the bar eight years ago. He told the Chaska Herald that he appears in court between four and six times a year. Most of those appearances seem to involve brief judicial approvals of negotiated agreements and it is reported that Gravely has less than 27 hours of experience on his feet in court during his career.

4. AN UNSTABLE AND LONELY MAN OF THE FAR RIGHT: Earlier this month, Gravely filed several searches for “friends” in the “Ron Paul” and “Liberty” circles on such social media services as Meet-Up.

5. RIGHT-WING CHAT ROOMS: In conservative chat rooms where the GOP civil war between the State Party and fringe activists over the refusal of the 2012 State Convention’s refusal to endorse judicial challengers, there is a lot of talk about Gravely. According to one source, Gravely has been contacting Republican legislative candidates and asking them to include his name on telephone scripts when their phone banks contact conservative voters. Other GOP chatters are upset because this would imply Republican endorsement of Gravely in violation of state campaign laws.

SIXTH, RACE FOR TRIAL JUDGE IN SOUTHWEST SUBURBS AND EXURBS- – JUDGE DIANE HANSON

This race will be decided by voters in seven counties:  Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, and Sibley.  

You can get more details at http://www.mnprogressiveprojec… .  But here are the basics.

Six reasons to support Judge Diane Hanson

1. STRONG LEGAL EDUCATION: Judge Hanson was a cum laude graduate at the University of Minnesota Law School, finishing near the top of her class.

2. VOICE FOR VICTIMS: Judge Larson was a prosecutor in Scott County for eight years, specializing in the prosecution of sexual assault and sexual abuse cases.

3. WORK WITH YOUTH: She is the Co-chair of the Scott County Juvenile Coordinating Committee which seeks new ways to counsel teens charged with criminal offenses.

4. PROBATION REFORM: Almost all criminal convicts come back on the streets at some point, and need to reintegrate themselves into society. Judge Hanson is the Judicial Representative on the Scott County Community Corrections Advisory Committee which works with current and former offenders.

5. WORKING ON ADDICTION ISSUES: Judge Hanson is a member of the Scott County Meth Task Force which provides policy advice to law enforcement and the County Board.

6. EIGHT YEARS ON THE JOB AS A JUDGE: Judge Hanson was appointed to the bench in 2004 and was elected to her current six-year term in 2006. She has presided over hundreds of cases involving every aspect of the law from child custody to contract disputes, from criminal prosecutions to tort and property actions. Her opponent has never practiced law.

ONE REASON TO VOTE AGAINST MICHAEL LARSON

NO EXPERIENCE: State records indicate that Larson was admitted to the bar four years ago. He told the Prior Lake American that he has not practiced law with private clients or government agencies.

He is an information tech specialist with the Southern Hennepin Adult Programs in Education (“SHAPE”) which provides English as a Second Language education to immigrants. Larson has indicated that he has helped immigrants to fill out legal paperwork to help them apply for residency or citizenship.

Aside from knowledge of the law, impartiality, and judicial temperament, the most important trait to look for in a trial judge is the ability to manage a court room.

We have no way to measure Michael Larson on knowledge, impartiality, or temperament, but we have to question his ability to enforce the rules in a court room because he has never tried to use them in a court room. The only time he has ever worried about the rules of evidence or procedure was when he took the bar exam.

EIGHTH, RACE FOR TRIAL JUDGE IN NORTHWEST MINNESOTA- – CHALLENGER DIANA SWEENEY

This race will be decided by voters in 17 counties in northwest Minnesota:  Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.

This race reflects how toxic judicial races can become when political parties get involved in judicial races.

In 2006, the religious right-wing of the Republican Party around Bemidji decided to knock off veteran judge Terry Holter who had served honorably on the trial bench for 26 years.

To knock him off, they recruited an unusual “stealth” candidate, Judge Holter’s own law clerk.  John G. Melbye filed to challenge his boss at the last second, and did not reveal his political agenda or his right-wing support.

Judge Melbye had never represented a client in court.  Prior to his election in 2006, he had never even appeared for a minute in court for a client.

That inexperience showed, according to former Judge Holter, who now is supporting Melbye’s opponent.  In a letter to newspapers, Holter claims that Judge Melbye was unfamiliar with the rules of procedure and the management of his courtroom.

Holter reports that Judge Melbye was the subject of a complaint to the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards and was summoned in front of the board to receive instructions on how to conduct trials and manage his court room.

This year, Judge Melbye has emerged from the political shadows.  It appears that he submitted an entry for the bogus “GOP voters guide” and indicated his support or opposition to proposed constitutional amendments and legislation.

Opposing Judge Melbye is his Bemidji neighbor and a veteran Public Defender in Judge Melbye’s own Beltrami County Court House.  To put an end to the political stresses in that court house, you are urged to support Diana Sweeney.

WEBSITES FOR THE JUDICIAL CANDIDATES

The website for Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea is http://www.chiefjusticeloriegi…

The website for her challenger Dan Griffith is http://griffithforjudge.com/

The website for Associate Justice David R. Stras is http://justicestras.org/

The website for his challenger Tim Tingelstad is http://highesthill.com/

The website for Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson is http://justicebarryanderson.com/

The website for his challenger Dean Barkley is barkleyforjustice.com

The website for Liz Cutter is www.cutter4judge.com  

The website for Steven Antolak is www.voteantolak.com  

The website for Lois Conroy is www.loisconroyforjudge.com  

The website for Marc Berris is www.marcberris.org .

The website for Judge Diane Hanson is http://www.judgedianehanson.com

There is no website for her challenger Michael L. Larson.

The website for Judge John G. Melbye is http://reelectjudgemelbye.com/

The website for his challenger Diana Sweeney is http://dianasweeneyforjudge.com/  

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