Friday, June 3, 2011

Redistricting: Judicial Board Appointed

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe Chief Justice of the MN Supreme Court, Lorie Gildea, yesterday announced the starting lineup for the court in the coming redistricting battle. The panel she appointed is a diverse group consisting of; three men and two women, three urban/suburban and two rural members and a lot of different in legal backgrounds.

The five justices are (with the Governor who appointed them in parenthesis):

Wilhelmina Wright (Ventura) presiding judge
Ivy Bernhardson (Pawlenty)
James Florey (Carlson)
Edward Lynch (Perpich)
John Rodenberg (Ventura)

If you're wondering why Gildea is already appointing a redistricting panel when there's still the possibility that new district lines could get worked out during a special session here's your answer:

Although future agreement on redistricting legislation by the legislative and executive branches remains a possibility, in light of the significant duties and responsibilities to be undertaken by the panel and the requirement for completion of redistricting in time for the 2012 election cycle, appointment of a redistricting panel is now necessary and appropriate.

So than, let's find out a little bit more about who these judges are.

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Wilhelmina Wright has been on the Minnesota Court of Appeals since September of 2002. Before that she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota primarily dealing with fraud and violent crime. Prior to that she worked in private practice with a DC law firm representing school districts.

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Ivy Bernhardson is a Hennepin County Judge in the Family Justice Center, where she's been since May of 2007. Before being appointed to her current position she worked as Chief Legal Officer for the Hazelden Foundation for three years starting in 2004 and before that was in private practice with Leonard, Street and Deinard starting in 2000. She began her legal career with General Mills, where she worked for 23 years starting in 1977.

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James B. Florey is the Chief Judge of the Virginia Courthouse in St. Louis County. He was appointed to that position in January 1999. I couldn't find a whole lot of info on Judge Florey, he's the mystery man of the group.

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Edward Lynch is the Chief Judge of Dakota County, appointed in July 1989. In 1993 Lynch presided over the highly publicized trial of Robert Guevara who was accused of raping, kidnapping and murdering 5 year old Corrine Erstad. Guevara was eventually acquitted. In 1991 he ruled that public defenders are open to malpractice liability claims and may be sued by former clients, a ruling that was eventually reversed by the MN Supreme Court.

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John R. Rodenberg is a Brown County Judge, appointed in 2000. In May of 2009 Judge Rodenberg ruled on a case involving a mother and her cancer ridden son who didn't want to go through chemotherapy. The mother and son used a religious freedom defense, claiming that they were seeking alternative treatments. Judge Rodenberg ruled against them and ordered that the boy get the treatment he needs or he would be placed in temporary custody, where he would get that treatment.

From the ruling: "The state's interest in protecting the child overrides the constitutional right to freedom of religious expression and a parent's right to direct a child's upbringing."

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