If this makes sense to you, please forward it to your whole Minnesota e-mail list. The corporate media have ignored Minnesota’s eight judicial elections. Don’t let your friends be low-information voters.
First, here are picks for the eight judicial races. Then here are brief reasons. If this makes sense, please pass them along to your friends.
These are just my opinions. But they are based on research. Where I say something harsh about one of these challengers, I can prove it with a web citation from a solid source, or from a court transcript.
FIRST, THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN ALL EIGHT RACES
SUPREME COURT – – EVERYONE INMINNESOTA VOTES ON THESE THREE RACES
1. Please support Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea. Please oppose “Shifty Dan” Griffith.
2. Please support Associate Justice David R. Stras. Please oppose “Pastor Tim” Tingelstad.
3. Please support Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson. Please oppose Dean Barkley. This is a close call, but please see the reasons below, and weigh carefully.
HENNEPIN COUNTY – – TWO MORE RACES
4. Please support Elizabeth Cutter. Please oppose Steven Antolak.
5. Please support Lois Conroy. Please oppose Marc Berris. There is reason for progressives to support Lois Conroy.
SOUTHWEST SUBURBS AND EXURBS – – TWO MORE RACES
These two races will be decided by voters in seven counties: Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, and Sibley.
6. Please support Judge Kathryn Messerich. Please oppose Brian Gravely.
7. Please support Judge Diane Hanson. Please oppose Michael L. Larson.
NORTHWEST MINNESOTA – – ONE MORE RACE
This race will be decided by voters in 17 counties in northwest Minnesota: Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.
8. Please support challenger Diana Sweeney. Please oppose Judge John G. Melbye.
IT IS UP TO YOU TO SPREAD THE WORD!
Not one television or radio newscast has covered these eight judicial races.
With the exception of one article by Emily Gurnon in the Pioneer Press that hinted at the political and religious extremism of “Shifty Dan” Griffith and “Pastor Tim” Tingelstad, there has been no real analysis of these races and the candidates in any Minnesota newspaper.
Only two newspapers (the Star Tribune and the New Ulm Journal) bothered to endorse a judicial candidate).
No civic or media organization (League of Women Voters, Minnesota Public Radio, television or radio) invited the Supreme Court candidates to a debate.
Minnesota is the last of the 50 states that has never had a television ad in a state-wide judicial race.
So it is up to you to send e-mails to all your friends to alert the public about these candidates.
SECOND, THE REASONS FOR THE RECOMMENDATIONS
Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea: 1). She has done a good job as a trial judge, an appellate judge, and as Chief Justice. 2). She has been pragmatic in big challenges (2008 recount for Al Franken, 2010 she wrote the order to end Tom Emmer’s recount, 2011 good during shut-down, 2012 settled redistricting). 3). Backed in newspaper editorial endorsements (Star Tribune, New Ulm Journal). 4). Backed by progressives(ABM, OutFront Minnesota) and many conservatives (writers on True North and PowerLine). 5). Backed by DFLers (Walter Mondale, Wendell Anderson), Independence Party leaders (Tim Penny, Tom Horner, Peter Hutchinson), and GOP leaders (Rudy Boschwitz and Tom Heffelfinger). 6). Trusted and hired by leaders of all three parties (Jesse Ventura, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Pawlenty). 7). Got every penny back for taxpayers from fraudulent settlement with disgraced basketball coach Clem Haskins. 8). Worked well with Governor Mark Dayton and 201 legislators to reverse trend of years of budget cuts that threatened our access to justice. 9). Smart as a whip (4.0 GPA at the University, magna cum laude at Georgetown Law). 10). Respected scholar (Editor of American Criminal Law Review, many published legal articles). 11). Created and endowed first travelling trophy in women’s NCAA sports (North Star trophy in UM/UMD hockey). 12). Works well with Attorney General Lori Swanson (Minnesota Pardons Board). 13). Really likes her quarter horse.
Reasons to oppose her challenger, “Shifty Dan Griffith: 1) He was found guilty and fines $1000 for repeatedly lying in more than one case. 2) He misled voters about unanimously losing a 2010 plebiscite of lawyers in his home county in his last race for judicial office, only to have article revealed which showed the he lost unanimously and even failed to vote for himself. 3). He misled voters about his ties to extremist right-wingers (Sarah Palin, Tom Emmer, Ron Paul, Tea Party, Michael Brodkorb, Kurt Bills, Chip Cravaack, 2010 GOP endorsement, almost exclusive financial support from GOP groups). 4). He misled voters about his commitment to an extremist religious agenda (said judges should be Christians, said “Americans above all should elect Christians”). 5). Has no experience to craft and secure budget of $250 million to keep our courts open. 6). Has no management experience to be administrative head of Minnesota judicial system to work with 315 judges, 2,500 court workers, and over 100 court facilities. 7) He is dumber than dirt. 8). He is a loser (this is his fifth race for state-wide judicial office). 9). “Shifty Dan” Griffith has problems with Integrity, Independence, Impartiality, Inexperience, and Intelligence.
Associate Justice David R. Stras: 1) There has been no criticism of his research and writing of opinions on the Supreme Court. 2). He is the moderate swing vote on the Supreme Court, siding with the liberals in 40 percent of the divided decisions. 3). He is very smart (Law Professor at University of Minnesota). 4) He has a broader and deeper legal experience than his opponent (trial and appellate lawyer with one of Minnesota’s largest law firms).
Reasons to oppose his challenger, “Pastor Tim” Tingelstad: 1). Tingelstad said he was to “bring the Truth of God to the highest court.” 2). Tingelstad said he would apply “the Word of God” before the Constitution or written laws and statutes. 3). Tingelstad has never researched or written a single judicial opinion or legal article on complex legal issues, which is sort of the definition of the job he is seeking. 4). Tingelstad has misled voters by claiming to be “nonpartisan” while securing over half of his financing from Republican committees and running in the past with GOP endorsement and funding.
Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson: 1). Although he was a big-time Republican before he joined the bench, he has served with honor and no partisan entanglements for 14 years as an Appellate Judge on the Court of Appeals and as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. 2). He won’t embarrass us with problems with alcohol, depression, weird dating conduct, and vote-swapping. 3). He is a solid researcher and writer whose work is considered as concise, clear, and consistent. 4). Any concerns about his partisan background will be offset by Governor Mark Dayton’s bloc on the Supreme Court of Justice Wilhemina Wright, the successor to Justice Paul Anderson who retires at age 70 next May, and the expected replacement of Justice Alan Page who turns 70 in 2014, and the 40% chance that Justice David Stras will disagree on any given divided opinion.
Reasons to oppose his challenger, Dean Barkley: 1). Barkley created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when he traded his vote in a perfectly-divided U.S. Senate to the Bush Administration in return for a favor that Jesse Ventura wanted. 2). Barkley told the Pioneer Press that he was often “too drunk and depressed to get off his couch” because no one would hire him and “every major law firm slammed their doors in my face” after he left the Ventura Administration and the U.S. Senate. 3). Barkley advertises on dating services likeMatch.com for women who share his enthusiasm for “exotic porn” and “snorkeling in hot tubs.” 4. Barkley has admitted to falling into “a lot of drinking” after he helped to beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Jimmy Carter in 1980. 5). Barkley is not exactly “as sober as a judge.” 6). Barkley elected Rod Grams to the U.S. House with his 1992 third-party run against U.S. Congressman Gerry Sikorski. 7). Barkley elected Rod Grams to the U.S. Senate with his 1994 third-party run against House Majority Leader Ann Wynia. 8). Barkley is a failure as a lawyer who has crashed five law firms that had his name on the door. 9). Barkley has never researched or written a single judicial opinion or legal article on complex legal issues, which is sort of the definition of the job he is seeking. 10). Barkley told the Washington Post that he likes “gumming up the works of government” especially when there is a narrowly divided institution. 11). That is a real concern in the Supreme Court, where we cannot trust Barkley to be serious about the work and avoid his clownishness, which could be triggered by his self-proclaimed tastes for a lot of alcohol, the shelter of his couch during his repeated depressions, his lust for unique companionship, his willingness to trade our liberty in return for favors, and his puckish desire to “gum up” closely-divided organizations of government.
NOTE: Some people and organizations whose credentials should be seriously considered have endorsed Barkley over Anderson. This includes ABM, OutFront Minnesota, and several of the writers who have built up the Minnesota Progressive Project. But I am supporting Anderson over Barkley because I think we need to rebuild people’s confidence in our shared American enterprise and the honorable role of dedicated public service by competent and dedicated public servants. I believe that the public’s confidence and commitment will be better served by Anderson than the buffoonish Barkley. Progressives will lose one vote to Anderson on most divided issues, but they will lose more in terms of strengthening the right-wing anarchists every time Dean Barkley grabbs a headline with outrageous comments or behavior. It is up to you to decide.
HENNEPINCOUNTY – – Liz Cutter for trial judge:
1). She was chosen as “the Minnesota Lawyer of the Year for 2011” by Minnesota Lawyer. 2). She has taken on gangs and community crime for 24 years as a senior prosecutor in the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney. 3). Before that, she was one of the “young lionesses” as an Assistant Attorney General in the office of Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey. 4). Before that she graduated with honors in Law School, and while earning a bachelor degree and a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Minnesota. 5). She has been a leader in combatting domestic violence both in Minnesota and on the national and international levels. She has trained prosecutors, police, and activists in Nigeria, Kiribati, Moldova, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. 6). She has bipartisan support of respected leaders and the endorsements of the Police Officers’ Federation of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Latino Police Officers’ Association. 7) She is supported by OutFront Minnesota.
Two reasons to oppose her opponent, Steven Antolak: 1) He has aligned himself with a shadow campaign of the right-wing extremists who broke into the state GOP’s database, stole e-mail lists, made up phony titles, and circulated to extremists a bogus Voter’s Guide that encourages judicial activism in support of legislation and opposition to Constitutional changes. 2) His Star Tribune endorsement focused on the narrowness of his law career in handling small cases for businesses and individuals, rather than the breadth and depth of Liz Cutter’s career in trial courts, appellate courts, and policy forums to combat gangs and community crime and violence against women.
HENNEPINCOUNTY – – Lois Conroy for trial judge: 1). She has been a nationally-recognized leader and innovator for stopping crime and rehabilitating chronic career criminals with her “Downtown 100” program. 2) She has helped residents of crime-ridden ethnic neighborhoods in Minneapolis with her “Court Watch” program that teamed cops, prosecutors, defenders, judges, social workers, and chemical dependency professionals to deter and treat chronic offenders in battered communities. 3) She has been a front-line warrior to protect the innocent and weak as a prosecutor and manager in the Office of the Minneapolis City Attorney for 14 years. 4) She is supported by OutFront Minnesota. [But to be fair, so is her opponent.]
Two reasons to oppose her opponent, Marc Berris: 1) He has aligned himself with a shadow campaign of the right-wing extremists who broke into the state GOP’s database, stole e-mail lists, made up phony titles, and circulated to extremists a bogus Voter’s Guide that encourages judicial activism in support of legislation and opposition to Constitutional changes. 2) His Star Tribune endorsement focused on his career in handling small cases for businesses and individuals, rather than the breadth and depth of Lois Conroy’s career in trial courts, appellate courts, and policy forums to combat gangs and community crime and violence against women. At heart, Berris is a cop. He was a jailer for Republican sheriff Pat McGowan, a deputy for Republican sheriffs in two counties, and a deal-cutter for drunk drivers. I know he has his supporters, but he is a shadow conservative who should not have a gavel.
IN SOUTHWEST SUBURBS AND EXURBS – – Judge Kathryn Messerich: 1) Broad life experience as a nurse and coordinator for trauma care for children in a five-state region. 2). Deep legal experience as a top trial lawyer in civil litigation focusing on cases related to health care(President of the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association in 2001-2002). 3). She is an ethical leader who served on the Fourth Judicial District’s Ethics Committee for 11 years and served as the committee’s Vice Chair in 2003. 4). She is an experienced judge who has presided over every kind of case since her appointment in 2004, including over 1,000 cases involving criminal prosecutions, family law, civil disputes, and constitutional questions. 5) She is a veterans advocate who has served as a volunteer judge on the Veterans Court that has been organized by the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (“MACV”) that allows veterans charged with crimes related to their post-service traumas to be diverted from criminal sentences and helps them to get the counseling and treatment they need to reconvert to civilian society. 6). She helps people with chemical dependencies as she presides over a docket that includes Adult Felony Drug Court (which seeks to avoid repeat offenses by teaming defendants with prosecutors, social workers, health professionals, and defenders), Family Dependency Court (which brings families into the work of rehabilitating criminal defendants). 7)/ She is a respected legal scholar who has been appointed as Chair of the Supreme Court’s advisory committee that reviews the General Rules of Practice that guide the practice of law in Minnesota’s 87 trial courts, and she has also been appointed as Vice Chair of the state’s committee that reviews and updates the models of civil jury instructions that trial judges use at the end of a jury trial. 8). She has broad and deep support and has been endorsed by the esteemed Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota, which is a group of the top 150 trial lawyers in the state. She has the backing of former Chief Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Kathleen Blatz and Eric Magnuson. She is also backed by hundreds of civic leaders from both political parties. This race will be decided by voters in seven counties: Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, and Sibley.
Three reasons to oppose her opponent, Brian Gravely: 1) He has little experience in the court-room, with perhaps as little as 27 hours actually on his feet in the court room representing clients in his undistinguished eight-year career. 2). He has aligned himself with a shadow campaign of the right-wing extremists who broke into the state GOP’s database, stole e-mail lists, made up phony titles, and circulated to extremists a bogus Voter’s Guide that encourages judicial activism in support of legislation and opposition to Constitutional changes. 3). He is a wounded extremist duck who has, as recently as last month sent out “lonely hearts club” adds for friends on in the “Ron Paul” and “Liberty” circles on such sites as MeetUp.com.
IN SOUTHWEST SUBURBS AND EXURBS – – Judge Diane Hanson: 1). STRONG LEGAL EDUCATION: Judge Hanson was a cum laude graduate at the University of Minnesota Law School, finishing near the top of her class. 2). VOICE FOR VICTIMS: Judge Larson was a prosecutor in Scott County for eight years, specializing in the prosecution of sexual assault and sexual abuse cases. 3). WORK WITH YOUTH: She is the Co-chair of the Scott County Juvenile Coordinating Committee which seeks new ways to counsel teens charged with criminal offenses. 4). PROBATION REFORM: Almost all criminal convicts come back on the streets at some point, and need to reintegrate themselves into society. Judge Hanson is the Judicial Representative on the Scott County Community Corrections Advisory Committee which works with current and former offenders. 5). WORKING ON ADDICTION ISSUES: Judge Hanson is a member of the Scott County Meth Task Force which provides policy advice to law enforcement and the County Board. 6). EIGHT YEARS ON THE JOB AS A JUDGE: Judge Hanson was appointed to the bench in 2004 and was elected to her current six-year term in 2006. She has presided over hundreds of cases involving every aspect of the law from child custody to contract disputes, from criminal prosecutions to tort and property actions. Her opponent has never practiced law. This race will be decided by voters in seven counties: Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, and Sibley.
One really good reason to oppose her challenger, Michael L. Larson: He has never practiced law. He has never represented a single client in court. In the four years since he got his law license, he has been an IT specialist for an education program that provides ESL instruction of immigrants. As a trial judge, Larson would have zero experience with the rules of procedure, the rules of evidence, or court-room management. Having your case heard by Michael Larson would be like taking a ride with a D.C. cabbie because both of you would be seeing the city for the first time.
IN NORTHWEST MINNESOTA – – Public Defender Diana Sweeney: 1) She is an experienced court room warrior as a public defender. 2) She is non-partisan with the support of a retired local judge. 2). She is trying to remove politics from one of the most toxic court houses in Minnesota. Along with her opponent on the bench, the Bemidi court has to put up with the ranting of “Pastor Tim” Tingelstad who puts the “Truth of God” ahead of the Constitution as a magistrate who makes recommendations on family law cases. Fortunately, his ideas have to be reviewed by a real judge. The Sweeney-Melbye race will be decided by voters in 17 counties in northwest Minnesota: Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.
Reasons to vote against her opponent, Judge John G. Melbye: 1). Judge Melbye has aligned himself with a shadow campaign of the right-wing extremists who broke into the state GOP’s database, stole e-mail lists, made up phony titles, and circulated to extremists a bogus Voter’s Guide that encourages judicial activism in support of legislation and opposition to Constitutional changes. 2). Six years ago, he ran as a “stealth” conservative candidate who filed at the last minute to run against his own boss, Judge Terry Holter. 3). He had no experience as a lawyer with clients when he was elected to be a judge. 3). He has been called on the carpet as an unprepared judge, according to Judge Holter who reports that Melbye was called before the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards and given training in proper procedure after he botched a family law case.
All of this is just my opinion.
Thank goodness for the First Amendment’s protection of the expression of political beliefs.
Thank goodness for the resolve and perseverance of the men and women who created and maintain the Minnesota Progressive Project where the First Amendment is given new life in an electronic age.