Gov. Mark Dayton has named Judge Edward J. Cleary to be the next chief judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
"When I learned last week of Chief Judge (Matthew) Johnson's decision not to seek reappointment, I thought carefully about who, of the other excellent judges now serving, would best carry forward his legacy," Dayton told reporters during Wednesday's announcement. "In the end my decision was difficult, because of the high caliber of the other judges under consideration, but it was also very clear."
Cleary, who was Dayton's first judicial appointment to the court of appeals, was a finalist for a seat on the state supreme court earlier this year. His background includes 20 years in civil and criminal defense litigation, including a stint as an assistant public defender for Ramsey County. His three-year term as chief judge begins Nov. 1.
"I know that judge Cleary will provide principled, innovative and effective leadership as the chief justice as the Minnesota Court of Appeals," Dayton said.
Cleary responded with thanks to the governor and a love note to the Minnesota Court of Appeals itself -- a place where 19 judges, appointed by five governors from three different parties, work together to hand down justice.
"We come from different backgrounds and different life experiences. We bring different qualities and goals to the table," Cleary said. "There's a chemistry that evolves between the three judges (on the appeal panels) ... It works like the jury system works. It's miraculous, in my mind."