David Lillehaug addresses a news conference Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at the state Capitol in St. Paul, where Gov. Mark Dayton announced Lillehaug's appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court. (Associated Press: Jim Mone)
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton picked former U.S. attorney and longtime Democratic insider David Lillehaug to be his second appointment to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 26. Lillehaug is "one of the most brilliant minds I've ever encountered," Dayton said. A longtime litigator in private practice, Lillehaug represented Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's Dayton in the gubernatorial recount in 2010. The two also sought the same job in 2000 -- U.S. senator -- which Dayton won. Lillehaug, 58, also represented DFLer Al Franken in the recount after the 2008 U.S. Senate election. He will replace Paul Anderson, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in May. Lillehaug will join a seven-member court made up of four justices appointed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, one elected justice, and Dayton's first appointment, Wilhelmina Wright, who joined the court in October. Lillehaug said he put his private interests aside for the four years he served as U.S. attorney, and he's confident he can do so again on the bench. "Being a judge is different," he said. "It requires fairness; it requires impartiality; it requires adherence to precedent and principle. It's not about politics. And as I mentioned, I know that I can leave that world of advocacy and become a good justice because I've been through a similar experience before. "That's what I have to do, and that's exactly what I will do." Dayton cited a "long tradition of justices being


appointed by governors with whom they've had political involvement in the past" who then go on to do great things on the court. He said the job is "beyond politics." Anderson had been a campaign lawyer for the governor who appointed him, Republican Arne Carlson. Two current justices appointed by Pawlenty, G. Barry Anderson and Christopher Dietzen, also had GOP ties: Anderson was a lawyer for the state Republican Party, and Dietzen represented Pawlenty during his 2002 campaign. Paul Anderson, who appeared with Dayton and Lillehaug at Tuesday's announcement, said it's an advantage for a judge to have political experience. "My advice to the new justice is don't try to explain how you get here ... and don't let anybody take any shots at you because you've been involved politically," he said. "We need people who have been in the trenches, know who they are going to serve. ... I applaud loudly the background of the new justice, because that's what we need in court." Dayton cited Lillehaug's role as "lead counsel for cases involving some of the most complex legal and constitutional questions of our time. They include: establishing the rights of Minnesota's religious institutions under the 'conceal-carry' firearms law; challenging Governor Pawlenty's unallotment of appropriated funds in 2009-2010; and representing my office on constitutional issues regarding the 2011 state government shutdown." Since 2002, Lillehaug has been an attorney at Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis. His practice focuses on public law and complex litigation. He serves on the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra board of directors, the Augustana College board of trustees and an advisory council to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, according to the law firm's website. Wright and Lillehaug will have to defend their seats in the 2014 election. No more current justices are due to reach mandatory retirement until after Dayton's first term ends; the next two to turn 70 will be Justice Alan Page in 2015, and Dietzen in 2017. Lillehaug is scheduled to be sworn in May 31. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Doug Belden can be reached at 651-228-5136. Follow him at twitter.com/dbeldenpipress. DAVID LILLEHAUG, 58 Family: Married to Winifred Smith, one child Education: Bachelor's degree, Augustana College in South Dakota; law degree, Harvard University Occupation: Attorney Experience: Clerk to U.S. District Judge Harry MacLaughlin, 1979-81; private practice lawyer, 1981-83, 1985-94, 1998-present; aide to Walter Mondale's presidential campaign, 1983-84; U.S. attorney for Minnesota, 1994-98. Political resume: -- Represented Al Franken in 2008 Senate recount and Dayton in 2010 gubernatorial recount; represented Dayton's office on constitutional issues in connection with 2011 state government shutdown. -- Attorney/adviser for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Hubert Humphrey III in 1988, Paul Wellstone in 1990 and 2002, Walter Mondale in 2002, Amy Klobuchar in 2006 and Franken in 2008. -- Unsuccessful candidate for state attorney general, 1998, U.S. Senate, 2000.
-- Chairman, Minnesota DFL Party Convention, 2012; co-chairman, 2006, 2004, 2002.
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