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Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary at his investiture in 2013. (File photo)
Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary at his investiture in 2013. (File photo)

Bar Buzz: Cleary replacement search is on

It’s official: The search is on to replace Minnesota Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary, who is retiring later this year.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office announced on Jan. 6 that he has asked a special panel to look for someone to fill Cleary’s 4th Congressional District seat on the court.

Cleary, 66, announced in October that he would retire later this year as the second-longest-serving chief in the court’s 36-year history. He was first appointed chief by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2013. He will step down on April 30.

In a press release, Walz’s office said a “merit selection panel” will conduct the search, rather than the sitting Commission on Judicial Selection. The special panel includes members of the Walz team plus the Judicial Selection Commission chair and its at-large members. They will solicit applicants, review candidates and recommend finalists.

Cleary, a St. Paul native, practiced law in St. Paul from 1977 to 1997, and was a Ramsey County public defender from 1980 to 1995. In that capacity, he successfully argued RAV v. City of St. Paul before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991.

That cross-burning case was described in the New York Times as “a decision of landmark dimension, a declaration in favor of more speech rather than less, even if the speech sometimes carries a painfully high price.” Cleary published a book about the case, “Beyond the Burning Cross: The First Amendment and the Landmark R.A.V. Case,” in 1994.

Cleary was director of the state Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility from 1997 to 2002. That same year, he was appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura to serve as a District Court judge in the 2nd Judicial District.

Candidates may contact Carl Dennis, judicial appointments coordinator, via e-mail at Carl.Dennis@state.mn.us. Applicants must have resided in the 4th Congressional District for at least one year to be eligible.

A cover letter and resume should be submitted with the application. Materials are due by close of business on Monday, Feb. 10 and should be addressed to Walz.

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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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