Advisory panel narrows field for two Minnesota Supreme Court justice seats

Published 6:07 am Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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By Dana Ferguson, Minnesota Public Radio News

At least one woman will be among the next round of appointees to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

A state merit selection panel on Monday recommended six candidates to fill two state Supreme Court seats set to come open when Associate Justices G. Barry Anderson and Margaret H. Chutich retire.

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Of that pool, five are women. Gov. Tim Walz will consider the recommendations and decide which two to appoint to the court. He’s not bound by the panel’s recommendations, but governors usually put a lot of stock in its work.

Three are judges and three are attorneys. The group includes the state’s solicitor general and one of the University of Minnesota’s top attorneys.

Anderson is set to step down in May and Chutich will retire in July. After Anderson’s retirement, all members of the court will be appointees of DFL governors.

Here are the candidates set to be considered for the appointments:

  • Lisa Beane is a senior associate general counsel in the University of Minnesota’s Office. She has also worked as an associate at Jones Day and Robins Kaplan and clerked for Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and Minnesota Supreme Court.
  • Elizabeth Bentley founded the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic and works as a visiting assistant professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School. Bentley served as special counsel to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar during the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Keala Ede currently serves as a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Ede previously served as a judge in the Fourth Judicial District, as an assistant federal defender in Minneapolis and as an assistant attorney general in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. He also clerked for a Hawaii Supreme Court justice.
  • Theodora Gaïtas serves as a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. She previously served as a judge in the Fourth Judicial District, where she presided over a felony caseload in the criminal division. Gaïtas is also co-chair of the Tribal Court State Court Forum.
  • Sarah Hennesy is the chief judge of the Seventh Judicial District. She has practiced law in appellate and trial courts in Iowa, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. She worked as a staff attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid in St. Cloud. She also serves as the chair of the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the General Rules of Practice.
  • Liz Kramer has served as Minnesota solicitor general since 2019. She previously worked as a partner at the Stinson law firm and clerked for then-Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Helen M. Meyer.