Judicial selection committe gives Dayton four candidates for Supreme Court justice spot

Nickalas Tabbert

Gov. Mark Dayton will likely choose between four candidates to serve as the next Minnesota Supreme Court justice.

A panel on judicial selection chose four candidates to fill the spot made vacant by Justice Helen Meyer’s upcoming retirement, the Star Tribune reported.

Prominent Democratic attorney David Lillehaug, Appeals Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright, Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich and District Court Judge Tanya Bransford are the candidates.

If Lillehaug is picked, it will continue a long line of campaign attorneys becoming justices, the Tribune said.  Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, put Christopher Dietzen, who represented the former governor when Pawlenty broke state campaign rules, on the court when he was governor.

Wright was an appointee of former Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura and was also considered by Pawlenty for a possible Supreme Court spot.

She also served a District Court Judge and as an Assistant United States Attorney when Lillehaug was U.S. Attorney, before she joined the bench, the Tribune said.

The judicial selection panel also recommended Bransford, who helped fund the Supreme Court’s Committee for Equality and Justice. He was initially appointed by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson.

The final panel-backed candidate, Chutich, also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney when Lillehaug led the office and was appointed last year by Dayton.

When Meyer retires, the only woman left on the Supreme Court will be Lorie Gildea, the chief justice.

Dayton’s spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci offered no guarantee that Dayton would pick from only among the four recommended candidates, noting that there is no rule or law that requires him to do so.