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Judge Charles H. LeDuc
Judge Charles H. LeDuc

Bar Buzz: Judicial opening in 9th District

Applications are being taken for a spot on the 9th Judicial District bench that is opening with retirement of Judge Charles H. LeDuc.

LeDuc was one of Gov. Jesse Ventura’s 1999 judicial appointments. Before that he had been a partner in the International Falls law firm Shermoen, LeDuc and Jaska. He also worked as an assistant public defender in the 9th District for 16 years.

The judge, who has practiced law since 1979, has served as judicial representative to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Ethics Board and as presiding judge of the Borderland Substance Abuse Court.

He is Koochiching County’s only judge. His replacement will chamber, as he has, in International Falls.

The judge made headlines in Greater Minnesota in June when the Court of Appeals reversed a sentence he had imposed for first-degree assault.

In that case, LeDuc continued a sentencing hearing to give himself time to visit the Stillwater prison and assess its mental health services. A dispositional adviser in the trial had recommended a stayed sentence on condition that the accused, Christopher Dwayne Leckner, enter long-term inpatient therapy.

Upon reconvening, LeDuc stated that, after having studied the matter firsthand, he believed Leckner would get better treatment in prison. He then sentenced Leckner to 150 months in prison.

The Court of Appeals, in an unpublished ruling that never mentions the judge by name, ruled that by relying on his own investigation outside the trial record, LeDuc placed his impartiality in question. It reversed and remanded the case for resentencing. That is scheduled to happen on Oct. 2.

Those hoping to take the slot on the 9th District bench may request an application though the governor’s office via e-mail at Judicial.Selection@state.mn.us.

Application materials are due by close of business on Sept. 14 and should be addressed to the Commission on Judicial Selection. The commission expects to hold interviews in early October.

For more information about the judicial selection process, visit the governor’s office website.

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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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