It appears that former 9th District Judge Terrance Holter (at right) wants his job back — or at least wants the job back.
Four years ago Holter, who’d been on the bench in northwestern Minnesota for 26 years, was defeated in his re-election bid by his former law clerk, John Melbye. Yesterday, Holter filed to run against incumbent 9th District Judge Paul Rasmussen, who’s been on the bench since he was elected in 1992. Rasmussen is currently chambered in Bagley, which is less than 30 miles from Holter’s former chambers in Bemidji. (Notably, Judge Paul Benshoof — who is chambered in Bemidji — is currently up for re-election as well, but Holter didn’t shoot for that spot.)
Following his defeat in 2006, Holter didn’t go away quietly. He applied to then Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Russell Anderson to sit on cases by designation as a “retired judge.” When Anderson denied the request, Holter was pretty upset. (Click here for the City Pages article.) When Eric Magnuson took over as chief in 2008, he indicated that he too followed the policy of other chief justices, which has been not to appoint judges who have lost elections to serve as retired judges.
Holter, who is 65 or 66, would not be able to complete a full term if he succeeds in his bid for Rasmussen’s seat. But if he gets back on the bench through an election, he just might be able to serve as a retired judge when he is forced to leave at age 70.
Obviously I don’t know Holter’s motivation for seeking Rasmussen’s seat. Perhaps he wants a bigger pension? Perhaps he just misses the job? Perhaps he wants to be colleagues with his former law-clerk-turned judge?
What I do know is that this is going to be an interesting race to watch.
(I attempted to contact Holter at the number on his filing papers, but the phone just rang and I was unable to leave a message. I sent him an e-mail as well, and will let you know if I hear back.)
Update: I just talked to Holter. He indicated that he’s running for judge again primarily because he wasn’t ready to retire four years ago when he lost his seat to Melbye. He said he chose to run against Rasmussen because lawyers and other people in the area encouraged him to do so. Holter said he worked closely with Benshoof when he was on the bench and would not have felt right running against him. When asked what he’s been doing for the past four years, Holter responded that he’s been mostly retired, but that he’s also done some legal services work through the local legal aid office.