Former U attorney, alumna rises to state Supreme Court

Megan Kadrmas

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s new chief justice swore in the state’s newest associate justice Monday at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul.

Former Office of the General Counsel attorney Lorie Gildea was appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in December.

Gildea replaced associate justice Russell Anderson, who also was sworn in Monday as the court’s new chief justice after the departure of Justice Kathleen Blatz.

Gildea, a Minnesota native and graduate of the University’s Morris campus, spent most of her career in the state serving at the University’s Office of the General Counsel from 1993 to 2004, then as assistant Hennepin County attorney and Hennepin County District Court judge since September 2005.

Her time in the University system, both as a student and as an employee representing the University in high-profile cases, taught her many valuable lessons that she will take with her to the bench, Gildea said.

Gildea litigated for the University against former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins and defended the University’s Duluth campus over Title IX issues.

Gildea also helped the University reclaim more than $2 million left for cancer research by a benefactor.

“The range of issues that I faced during my time with the University has helped me prepare for my position,” Gildea said.

During her time working at the University, Gildea worked under General Counsel Mark Rotenberg. Rotenberg was at Monday’s ceremony to offer remarks on Gildea’s behalf.

“I’m confident she will not shade a judgment with her personal opinions,” he said. “I’d like to think that she learned a lot of that by representing a great public institution.”

Gildea’s strengths lie in her ability to analyze and write opinions well, and her respect for law as an institution, Rotenberg said.

In his remarks, Pawlenty praised Gildea for her commitment to impartiality.

“She has a heart for justice,” he said.

The governor also spoke of Gildea’s support for University athletics.

“The clincher for me was to see her at hockey games. She’s a passionate fan of women’s hockey at the University of Minnesota,” Pawlenty said.

In addition to women’s hockey, Gildea has season tickets to women’s volleyball, women’s softball and other Gophers sports.

“I told her I’d introduce her at the swearing in on the condition she continue to return my phone calls to go out to breakfast every once in a while,” Rotenberg said with a smile. “She reluctantly agreed.”

Aidan Anderson contributed to this report.