Weather Forecast


Process underway to fill Eighth Judicial vacancy

GRANITE FALLS -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has certified the need to maintain a judge chambered in Yellow Medicine County.

Applicants are now being sought for the vacancy in Granite Falls.

Applications for the trial court bench served by District Judge Bruce Christopherson will be accepted through May 8, according to information from the Eighth Judicial District. A judicial selection committee will review the applications and forward its recommendations to Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The governor is expected to appoint a successor to Judge Christopherson sometime this calendar year.

Judge Christopherson retired at the end of 2009, but is serving on a temporary basis.

The court's decision in March to certify the position -- and consequently maintain 11 chambered judges in the Eighth Judicial District -- is welcome news, according to Judge Paul Nelson, chief judge for the district.

It is no longer automatic that a retiring judge will be replaced: State law now requires that the Supreme Court cannot certify a judicial vacancy until it has examined other options.

Judges in the Eighth Judicial District argued to the Supreme Court that the court serves a busy part of the district in Granite Falls. Also, it's a good geographic fit for serving the area, according to Judge Nelson.

The judges also provided information to the court on the district's ongoing efforts to deliver services as efficiently as possible.

The timely completion of a weighted caseload study also reached the court and bolstered the arguments for certifying the vacancy. The study supported the need for 11 judges in the district, finding an increased need from a previous study. The study had a considerable bearing on the court's decision, according to Judge Nelson.

He said the district recently learned that there was not a vote to look at redistricting in the state, meaning the current judicial districts will remain as they are for the foreseeable future. There will be other challenges and possibly changes ahead, however.

The district will be looking at a vacancy in Breckenridge in Wilkin County in January when Judge Peter Hoff retires.

Also, state budget projections for 2012 have led to projections for substantial cuts affecting the court system. The districts are continuing to look at how to manage substantial cuts in funding, he said.

Licensed Minnesota attorneys in the Eighth Judicial District may request an application for the Yellow Medicine County judgeship by contacting John Hulquist, 651-296-0019, via e-mail at or by writing: Ronald J. Schutz, Chair, Commission on Judicial Selection, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155.