Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, one of Gov. Mark Dayton's closest advisers, is one of four recommended candidates by a judicial panel for openings on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Dayton is due to fill two vacancies on the appeals court. He is not bound by the recommendations of the Commission on Judicial Selection, but such appointments are typically heavily influenced by the panel's choices.
In addition to Jesson, the other three recommended candidates are Judge Diane Bratvold of the Fourth Judicial District; Judge Jeffrey Bryan of the Second Judicial District; and Tracy Smith, deputy general counsel at the University of Minnesota.
Jesson has served in Dayton's cabinet since the beginning of his first term, at the helm of state government's largest agency. She is a former assistant state attorney general and deputy Hennepin County attorney, and also taught law at Hamline University.
In choosing whether or not to appoint Jesson, Dayton must weigh whether he can afford to lose her experience in leading a massive, important state agency. Human Services distributes billions in government aid and assistance programs, supervises sex offenders and operates several state treatment facilities, helps run the MNsure health insurance marketplace, and reaches into many other complex policy areas.
Dayton will interview the candidates in the coming weeks before making the appointments. The governor is also likely to name a new Supreme Court justice sometime in 2016, to replace Justice Wilhelmina Wright as she moves to a federal judgeship.