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Left to right: David Herr, Brett Kelley, Steve Wolter, Doug Kelley, Kevin Magnuson and Dan Scott.

Attorneys of the Year: Minnesota State Legislature Legal Team

Doug Kelley and David Herr are Circle of Excellence Attorneys of the Year.

Doug Kelley and David Herr are Circle of Excellence Attorneys of the Year.

A fierce legal battle over the Legislature’s operating budget ended late in the year when the Supreme Court upheld Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of the appropriation, choosing to let the state’s legislative and executive branches work out the dispute themselves.

Although the court ruled against them, it was a benchmark case for the team of six attorneys who worked on behalf of the Legislature.

“In her opinion, [Chief] Justice [Lorie] Gildea noted that it was the first time one co-equal branch asked the Supreme Court to decide a dispute with another co-equal branch,” said Doug Kelley of Kelley, Wolter & Scott in Minneapolis. “We had 201 clients from both parties and in both the House and the Senate, so our loyalties were to the Legislature as a whole.”

Joining Kelley on the Legislature’s legal team were the firm’s Steven Wolter, Daniel Scott, Kevin Magnuson and Brett Kelley, and David Herr, of Maslon.

The court’s ruling overturned a lower court decision that said Dayton’s action was unconstitutional. The court also said the Legislature has the authority to tap enough money to continue operating — at least $26 million and up to $40 million — until it reconvenes Feb. 20.

“We made our points,” said Kelley. “It was a case that was certainly unlike any other I’ve worked on.”

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