Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea issued a stern rebuke to state lawmakers this week over a court spending plan that she warned does not provide enough money for a northwestern Minnesota judicial district.
"The consequences for not doing so are very real for our justice system, our citizens and our state, and I thought it best if you heard that from me," Gildea said Wednesday during a House committee review of the spending agreement forged in closed-door talks between legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz. "The people of Minnesota count on a court system that is accessible, timely, efficient and secure. We need the legislative and executive branches to fulfill their constitutional duties to provide the resources necessary to allow us to maintain ours."
Gildea said judiciary caseload data found that the Seventh Judicial District — which includes Moorhead, St. Cloud, Alexandria and Little Falls — needs more than two new judges in order to clear cases in a timely manner. But the spending bill creates just one new position. Gildea said she met with individual lawmakers more than 70 times this session and sat down with Walz on at least three occasions to make her pitch for increased funding for the courts. The bill includes a 2.5% pay raise for judges and other court employees.