Gov. Mark Dayton has joked that he is in “semi-retirement” as his final term winds down. But he has had a busy week interviewing and appointing a slate of Minnesota district court judges.
And with two new open 4th Judicial District seats to fill and a little over three months left in office, he isn’t through just yet.
Dayton’s office announced Thursday that he had filled four vacancies in three judicial districts.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Judicial Selection said Thursday that the governor has two new 4th District judges to name. One will fill the seat left vacant when President Donald Trump appointed Judge Nancy E. Brasel to Minnesota’s U.S. District Court bench.
Dayton on Thursday named two new judges — Tracy Perzel and Vicki Vial Taylor — to the state’s 1st Judicial District bench.
Perzel is the criminal division chief at Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. Vial Taylor is a senior assistant in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Adult Prosecution Division.
They will replace Judge M. Michael Baxter, who has retired, and Judge Erica H. MacDonald, who was appointed the state’s U.S. attorney in April.
“Throughout their distinguished careers in public service, Ms. Vicki Vial Taylor and Ms. Tracy Perzel have both demonstrated their deep knowledge of and firm commitment to justice,” Dayton said in a press release. “I thank them for their continued service to Minnesotans as District Court Judges in Minnesota’s First Judicial District.”
Perzel has been supervising 40 assistant U.S. attorneys in the Minnesota office’s Criminal Division. Previously, she served as an assistant Minnesota attorney general and assistant county attorney for Kandiyohi.
She earned her bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude), from the University of St. Thomas and her juris doctorate (cum laude) from the University of Minnesota School of Law.
Vial Taylor has been leading the Hennepin County Attorney’s Gang Team, prosecuting serious violent felonies. Previously, she was an assistant county attorney for both Hennepin and Carver counties, dealing with juvenile delinquency, child protection and foster- and child-care licensing issues.
She earned her bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Central College and her juris doctorate (cum laude) from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Dayton interviewed candidates for both posts on Monday.
The 1st District includes Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley Counties. Both new judges will be chambered at Hastings in Dakota County.
In the 8th Judicial District, Melissa Listug Klick will replace the retired Judge Michael J. Thompson.
Listug Klick is a “flextime attorney” with Littler Mendelson, P.C., where she assesses employment litigation and makes litigation strategy recommendations. She will be chambered at Glenwood in Pope County.
“Ms. Melissa Listug Klick has had a notable career in both the private and public sectors, helping her attain a deep understanding of the law,” said Dayton said in a press release. “I thank Ms. Listug Klick for continued her service to Minnesotans, as a District Court Judge in the Eighth Judicial District.”
Previously, Listug Klick worked as an associate and of counsel with Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton, L.L.P.; as a summer associate at Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel; and as a clerk for the University of Minnesota’s general counsel’s office. She once worked as an extern for Minnesota’s former Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Lebedoff. Her bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate both were earned at the University of Minnesota.
Dayton interviewed candidates for the post on Wednesday.
Minnesota’s 8th Judicial District consists of Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wilkins and Yellow Medicine Counties.
Sarah L. McBroom, a staff attorney at Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota, will replace the retired Judge Lois J. Lang in Minnesota’s 9th Judicial District, Dayton’s office announced Thursday. She will be chambered at Grand Rapids in Itasca County.
“Ms. Sarah McBroom has demonstrated a strong commitment to her community through her extensive professional accomplishments and volunteer committee work,” Dayton said in a press release. “Ms. McBroom’s time as a staff attorney and judicial law clerk will serve her well as a District Court Judge for the Ninth Judicial District.”
McBroom represents clients in administrative, family, housing, expungement and child protection matters, according to a press release. She previous clerked for former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul H. Anderson.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and her juris doctorate from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Dayton interviewed candidates for the post on Tuesday.
Minnesota’s 9th Judicial District contains Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties.
4th District vacancies
Meanwhile on Thursday, the Commission on Judicial Selection announced two vacant judgeships in Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District.
Those openings were created by the retirement of the District Court Judge Pamela G. Alexander and by Brasel’s ascension to Minnesota’s U.S. District Court. Once appointed, both new judges will be chambered at Minneapolis.
Previously announced finalists for an existing vacancy, created by the conversion of a referee position into a judgeship, will be considered — along with additional finalists not yet named — for both new vacancies, according to the commission.
“The commission is searching for fair, experienced, and civic-minded individuals to serve on the bench and offer their talents and services to Minnesota’s judicial system,” its press release said.
The group says it places a premium on candidates who demonstrate integrity, maturity, health, judicial temperament, legal knowledge, ability, experience and community service.
The application process is open. Those interested in applying may write to Lee E. Sheehy, Judicial Selection Commission chair, at 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.
Megan Jablonski Johnson, judicial appointments coordinator, may be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] for inquiries concerning the process. She also can be reached by phone at 651-201-3451.
A cover letter and resume should also be submitted with an application. Materials are due by close of business on Oct. 11 and interviews are scheduled for Oct. 31.
— Sources: Gov. Mark Dayton’s media team and the Commission on Judicial Selection