The Walz administration moved closer Friday to appointing the first and likely only state Supreme Court justice of the governor’s first term.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office said a selection panel narrowed the search to four candidates: Court of Appeals Judge Diane Bratvold; Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Bryan; Chief Deputy Attorney General John Keller, and Nobles County District Court Judge Gordon Moore.

Walz has been looking for a replacement for Justice David Lillehaug, who said that he would retire July 31 following a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis last year. The administration finished fielding applications for the post at the end of last month.

Bratvold was appointed to the state appeals court by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2016 after serving as a district court judge in the Fourth Judicial District.

Bryan was one of Walz’s first two state appellate court picks, alongside former Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal. Segal was recently named chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, replacing the departing Edward Cleary.

Keller previously served as the longtime head of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota before Attorney General Keith Ellison tapped him to be his chief deputy at the beginning of his first term last year. In a statement Friday, Ellison said Keller “knows firsthand the effect the law has on real people’s lives, how it can be used to help them or hurt them.”

Moore is chambered in Worthington and previously served as Nobles County attorney. He was a special assistant and assistant attorney general under former Attorney General Skip Humphrey.


Twitter: @smontemayor