Outgoing Minnesota Chief Justice proud of COVID response, cameras in courts

Outgoing Minnesota Chief Justice proud of COVID response, cameras in courts

Outgoing Minnesota Chief Justice proud of COVID response, cameras in courts

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea will step down from that position on October 1 with a long list of achievements she’s proud of accomplishing, including a response to a crisis she never saw coming.

“It was enormously challenging,” she said of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our system is built on close personal interactions often in crowded and crammed courtrooms, so the challenge for us was how do we continue to provide access to justice when we couldn’t all be together.”

She applauds judges and staff for rising to the challenge.

“We had IT staff literally driving around the state standing up virtual courtrooms so we could continue to provide access to justice to the people of Minnesota even we couldn’t be together,” Gildea said.

Gildea has served on the court since 2006 and as chief justice since 2010. She was appointed to both positions by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

When she leaves in October, she will have served as chief justice longer than anyone since 1913.

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“You’ve got to go back more than 100 years in our history to find somebody who has served as chief justice as long as I have, and that’s pretty good evidence that it’s time for somebody else to have a chance,” she said in an interview recorded for “At Issue with Tom Hauser.”

She says she also feels comfortable knowing the judicial branch is on firm financial footing. “The judiciary is on a solid fiscal foundation. We got the courts through COVID. We adopted our next two-year strategic plan, so I think it’s a good time for a transition in leadership in the judiciary.”

Another source of pride for Gildea is her focus on moving the court system toward paperless records with more transparency in public access to electronic court records and what happens inside the courtroom with more cameras.

“I think transparency is important,” Gildea noted. “What goes on in Minnesota courtrooms by and large is the people’s business, and whatever we can do to make it easier for the people to see that, to observe that, to access that is all to the better in my view.”

When Gildea steps down, there will be only one justice left on the Minnesota Supreme Court who was appointed by a Republican. Justice G. Barry Anderson, another Pawlenty appointee, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2024.

Sources tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Gov. Tim Walz is likely to elevate a current justice to become chief justice and then name another Supreme Court justice. He could make an announcement next week.

Walz interviewed potential candidates for the Supreme Court Friday morning.

You can see the entire interview with Chief Justice Lorie Gildea Sunday morning at 10 on “At Issue with Tom Hauser.”