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Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson in July

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson's retirement approaches

  • Article by: RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER
  • Star Tribune
  • January 4, 2013 - 11:16 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton is preparing to make his second appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson, first appointed in 1994 by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, is set to step down when he reaches the court's mandatory retirement age of 70 in May.

Although it is not required, Dayton's office said Tuesday that he has asked the Commission on Judicial Selection to "aid in the review and selection process" to fill the spot. Applications are due by Feb. 15.

Dayton, a DFLer, made his first mark on the court in September by appointing Appeals Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright to the court to replace Justice Helen Meyer. Wright was among four finalists for the job last fall. Also on the list: attorney David Lillehaug, District Court Judge Tanya Bransford and Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich.

Anderson said Friday that his time on the bench, the capstone to a long career in politics and government, has been a privilege.

During his tenure, the court has handled two statewide recounts, a series of constitutional cases, and civil cases that are cited nationally. Anderson, whose opinions are marked with historic and literary references, also helped set up the court's redistricting process, which has largely been accepted as fair.

Over the years, Anderson said the court's jurisprudence has become more conservative. "That puts me more on the center left than where I would have been to begin with," he said.

Anderson, despite the authority of the black robe, has also been approachable on the bench and off it. He said when he was first invested at the state Appeals Court, he decided he would not retreat onto the bench.

"I decided good, bad or indifferent, I would reach out," Anderson said. He has traveled the state, the country and the world to discuss judicial and civic issues.

Anderson told Dayton that he would not recommend a name for his replacement, but did offer some characteristics of the right person: someone who is curious, willing to explore the nuance of the law; imbued with empathy; who is willing to work hard; "loves language and understands the importance of language." The person, he told the governor, should have both an open mind and enough humility to understand self doubt.

Dayton's office said he will look for someone who possesses "great integrity, extensive legal knowledge, broad experience and a commitment to fairness" to fill Anderson's black robe. Applications for the rare open Supreme Court spot are due by Feb. 15.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @rachelsb

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