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(AP Photo/Zach Gibson, File)
(AP Photo/Zach Gibson, File)

Bar Buzz: Governor has four new vacancies to fill

Gov. Tim Walz will soon have his hands full filling four open judicial slots. All are being vacated through retirements.

In the 1st Judicial District, Dakota County District Court Judge Thomas Pugh reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in August. The state’s Judicial Selection Committee announced Wednesday that his seat on the bench is opening up.

Pugh was appointed to the bench by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011 and was elected to remain in 2014. He is a former Public Utilities Commission member, appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2004. He also served as DFL House minority leader from 1999 to 2002.

On June 18, the Judicial Selection Committee said it is seeking applications to fill the seat of Ramsey County District Court Judge David C. Higgs.

Higgs retired in March, according to his entry on the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website. A 2002 appointee of Gov. Jesse Ventura, he was elected and reelected three times. After his retirement, he was appointed to serve as a statewide senior judge from June 1 to June 30.

On June 17, the commission announced an opening in the 4th Judicial District. There Hennepin County District Court Judge Bruce A. Peterson retired at the end of May, according to the Judicial Branch website.

Peterson was Ventura’s first selection to the Minnesota bench in April 1999 and was subsequently elected and re-elected four times. A former civil and criminal trial lawyer, Peterson was named an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in 1980 and worked as special assistant to the Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in 1979.

On June 7, an opening in the 9th Judicial District was announced. There Mahnomen County District Court Judge Kurt J. Marben plans to retire.

A 2000 Ventura appointee, Maren was elected and reelected three times. From 2009 to 2015, he was the 9th District’s chief judge. That position is now held by Beltrami County District Court Judge Paul T. Benchoff.

The application process is open for all four vacancies. Marben’s will be the first to close on June 28.

Those wishing to apply can request an application by emailing Carl Dennis, judicial appointments coordinator, at Carl.Dennis@state.mn.us. A cover letter and resume should also be submitted with the application.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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