We’re awaiting the reviews from the legal community now that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has appointed a new chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. (Update: Minn. Lawyer blog calls it a “John Roberts type ‘difficult-to-assail’ appointment”)But this much we know: it helps to be close to Tim Pawlenty if you want a gig on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Pawlenty today appointed Eric Magnuson of Inver Grove Heights to replace outgoing justice Russell Anderson. Magnuson was a partner in the same firm — Rider Bennett — that employed both Pawlenty and his wife, Mary. He was also in charge of screening judicial candidates for Pawlenty. Minnesota Lawyer says the move was “anticipated.”
Prior to Magnuson’s appointment, Pawlenty’s most recent pick for the Minnesota Supreme Court was Christopher Dietzen in November. Dietzen was Pawlenty’s campaign lawyer.
For his part, Magnuson steps onto the court that might still be considering an important case in June, one in which he just argued a position before the court. According to Minnesota Lawyer, Magnuson argued a sexual harassment case before the court this month in which his client, Carlson Marketing Group, is being sued by a woman who says she was physically and sexually assaulted.
The case, heard earlier this month, will determine the extent to which the Minnesota Human Rights Act holds an employer liable for the actions of an employee in matters of sex harassment.
You can watch the March 4 hearing before the high court here. Magnuson’s presentation begins at 25:28 (download the video to your computer to be able to fast forward).