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Minnesota Lawyer Judicial Election
Welcome to Minnesota Lawyer's 2006 online judicial election guide!
This year there are eight contested judicial races. Seven of those are for District Court (i.e. trial court) seats and one is for a seat on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Most of the judges up for election are unopposed.

To see biographies of any of the 16 contenders in the eight contested races and his/her responses to Minnesota Lawyer's candidate questionnaire, please choose a court or district on the left and click on the candidate's name. For your convenience, we have also provided links to biographies of the judges who are running unopposed. Please click on uncontested races on left for a list of those judges and links. To learn more about this site, to locate your judicial district or to read articles from Minnesota Lawyer's coverage of the judicial races, follow the links on the left. Learning about the candidates in a judicial race can be difficult. Historically, such races have not received much media coverage, leaving voters to their own devices to find information.

In order to assist voters in this quest, Minnesota Lawyer offers this judicial election website. We asked each of the candidates for a contested judicial seat to provide a photo, biographical information and short answers to a set of questions about his or her candidacy. Candidates were asked to limit the length of each response to about 100 words. Minnesota Lawyer's intention in posting this information is to provide a forum whereby the public can access the candidates' own statements. Minnesota Lawyer does not endorse any of the statements and has not verified the completeness or accuracy of any of the answers.

We would like to thank the candidates for participating in this public information effort. At the appellate court level, there is only one contested race this year. Court of Appeals Judge Christopher J. Dietzen will square off against International Falls attorney Daniel L. Griffith. Since this is a statewide election, all voters will have the opportunity to weigh-in.

The other seven contested races involve District Court seats. Voters can only cast votes for races that are in their own Judicial District. (For example, if you live in Hennepin County, you are in the 4th Judicial District and only the 4th Judicial District races will be on your ballot.) If you are unsure which Judicial District you reside in, you can find out by checking out the map on this website.

The questionnaire gives candidates the opportunity to provide their views on a variety of topics and for the most part is self-explanatory. However, it is worth pointing out that two of the eight questions were spawned by recent federal court decisions ending limits that the state had formerly placed on judicial campaigns. Prior to the decisions (made in a case called Republican Party of Minnesota, et al. v. White, et al.), judicial candidates were prohibited from attending political party gatherings and/or discussing their views on disputed legal or political issues likely to come before the court. They were also barred from seeking or using endorsements from political parties. But the federal courts in White found that the restrictions violated candidates' free-speech rights. This is the first judicial election since the final striking-down of the restrictions. While it is now clear that judicial candidates can engage in the previously prohibited conduct, whether or not they should remains a topic of much debate in the legal community.

Nearly 90 percent of the judges up for election this year are running uncontested (i.e. they do not face a challenger). Minnesota Lawyer has set up links to provide voters with background information on those judges, but did not ask judges running uncontested to answer our questionnaire.

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