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Attorneys of the Year: Justice Christopher Dietzen

recognition-for-outstanding-serviceChristopher Dietzen has written about 350 appellate opinions as a judge on the Court of Appeals and a justice on the Supreme Court.

That’s just one bullet point under his name. As the liaison to the Minnesota Supreme Court Civil Justice Reform Task Force, he brought us the rocket docket — an expedited litigation track pilot project with proportionate discovery and (usually) without continuances.

Dietzen has indelibly marked the legal profession, and he is grateful for the opportunity.

“The work of the court was so meaningful. It was a gift to be able to sit at the table, express opinions and participate in those decisions,” he said.

On the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, he had a big role in reforming some drug-related prison sentences and at the same time giving prosecutors more tools to go after dealers.

After years of having his work cut out for him, retirement is a little bit like falling off a cliff because it is such an abrupt change, Dietzen said. Nearing retirement age of 70, he wasn’t really ready to step down but he did not want to run for election either, and he made it possible for Gov. Mark Dayton to pick his replacement.

Retirement forced him to think about what he really wants to do. He’ll stay with the guidelines commission and will probably serve on the panels that evaluate the request for discharge from committed sex offenders. Legal aid directors are after him and the archdiocese may benefit from his help. He’s planning to take the time to find just the right fit.

But he won’t “presume” to give advice about the court, Dietzen said. “We have a great court and a strong tradition in the bar of supporting judges and that’s very important in maintaining an independent and impartial judiciary.”

In serving on the bench for 14 years, Dietzen has made an outstanding service to the profession.

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