Public Attorneys on the Move
Michael Goodwin has recently joined the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Goodwin was formerly with the law firm of Jardine, Logan and O’Brien and previously served as a student liaison on the PLS Executive Council while he was a student at Hamline Law School.
News From the Bench
Governor Dayton appointed Mark C. Vandelist as District Court Judge in Minnesota’s First Judicial District. Mr. Vandelist replaces the Honorable Edward I. Lynch, who retired earlier this year. The judgeship will be chambered at Le Center in Le Sueur County.
Mr. Vandelist was a trial attorney and partner at Vandelist & Vandelist, P.A., where he primarily handled personal injury cases and provided pro bono services in criminal areas. He previously served as a trial attorney at Heuer & Vandelist, P.A., and Cousineau McGuire Chartered. Mr. Vandelist earned his B.A. from American University in Washington, D.C. and his J.D. from the Hamline University School of Law.
Additionally, Mr. Vandelist is a certified civil trial specialist, served as an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and volunteers as coach for Lakeville North High School Mock Trial.
Mr. Vandelist resides with his family in Lakeville.
Minnesota’s First Judicial District consists of Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley Counties.
Governor Mark Dayton appointed Marta M. Chou, Nicole A. Engisch, Thomas S. Fraser, Carolina A. Lamas and Bruce D. Manning as District Court Judges in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District. The appointees will be filling vacancies created upon the retirements earlier this year of the Honorable John L. Holahan, Jr., the Honorable William R. Howard, the Honorable Marilyn J. Kaman, the Honorable Richard S. Scherer and the Honorable Lloyd B. Zimmerman. These judgeships will be chambered at Minneapolis in Hennepin County in the Fourth Judicial District.
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Eyes on the Court
By: Patricia Beety, League of Minnesota Cities
Helmberger v. Johnson Controls Inc., 839 N.W.2d 527 (Minn. 2013)
The Minnesota Supreme court recently held that private businesses contracting with government entities are not required to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (“MGDPA”) when there is no notice requiring statutory adherence in the underlying contract. The question about what type of contracts between government entities and private contractors are subject to the MGDPA was left unanswered. Many were watching this case to see if the lower court decisions adopting a multi-factored test for what constitutes a “governmental function” would be followed by the supreme court. Instead, we were given a primer on following the plain language of a statute and adhering to core principles of contract law in this much anticipated decision, leaving the governmental function question for another day and another case.
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Because I Said So: A Chance to Rethink Chevron Deference
By: The Honorable Eric L. Lipman
My eleven year-old is an independent thinker. He assumes nothing. He takes nothing for granted: “Why must I go to bed?” “Why do I need to wear a hat?” “Why is there gravity?” “Why can’t I juggle steak knives?” Why? Why? Why?
Sometimes these interrogatories can be trying. Recently, at the end of one very long day of questions and answers, I just broke. Tumbling toward the refuge of exhausted parents everywhere, I blurted out: “Why? Because I said so…. That’s why!!!”
I recalled that day, and that feeling of exasperation, as I read through the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in City of Arlington v. Federal Communications Commission. I remembered that: Just because I can say something authoritatively, does not mean that my authority is the best answer to a question.
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The ABA's Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division
By: Greg Brooker, Assistant U.S. Attorney
The ABA’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division (GPSLD) had a productive year in 2013, sponsoring several live webinars and CLEs for members. What follows is a short update on the Division’s activities:
The GPSLD met at the ABA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco in August and elected the following officers:
Chair – Al Purdue, Los Alamos, NM
Chair-Elect – Greg Brooker, Minneapolis, MN
Vice-Chair – Joan Burke, Newark, NJ
Secretary – Jenae Naumann, Phoenix, AZ
Treasurer – Pauline Weaver, Oakland, CA
ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco
At the ABA Annual Meeting, GPSLD council members voted to co-sponsor several ABA resolutions and listened to Erik Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, announce a new national policy on drug prosecutions. Also at the meeting, Hillary Rodham Clinton received the ABA’s highest award for her contributions as a lawyer and her work for some 40 years in the ABA.
Fall Council Meeting in Santa Fe
The GPSLD Fall Council Meeting took place in October in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The GPSLD sponsored an ethics CLE for New Mexico government lawyers and co-sponsored several seminars with the ABA’s State and Local Section, which was meeting in Santa Fe at the same time.
Upcoming ABA Mid-Year Meeting in Chicago in February
At the ABA’s Mid-Year 2014 Meeting in Chicago, the GPSLD will sponsor an interactive CLE on depositions for new government lawyers. The Division’s popular Ethical Issues for Government Lawyers will also be held. The GPSLD Council will also be voting on several resolutions for the ABA House of Delegates to consider.
Outreach to Law Schools
Each year the GPSLD sponsors approximately 25 programs at law schools throughout the country on government service and public law. The programs are well attended. Last year local GPSLD members in the Twin Cities sponsored a program at the University of Minnesota Law School, and this spring one is planned for the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
Military Lawyers Outreach
The GPSLD has two committees on military justice that provide support for military lawyers. The committees sponsor legal help and advice clinics to military families near bases. The committees also sponsor CLEs on such issues as prosecuting sexual assaults in the military. In addition, the committees publish a separate newsletter each quarter for lawyers practicing in the military.
Check out the Division’s magazine, Public Lawyer and the GPSLD’s newsletter, Pass It On, for timely legal topics for government lawyers.
Check Out the New ABA Website. The ABA’s website is more user friendly and interactive. Check it out at www.americanbar.org.
Minnesota members of the GPSLD Council. U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tunheim and Hennepin County District Court Judge Susan Nolting Burke are members of the GPSLD Council. Greg Brooker of the U.S. Attorney’s Office serves as Chair-Elect of the GPSLD. Please contact them if you have any questions about the Division and its activities and CLEs.
Public Law Section Seeks Nominations for 2013 Public Attorney Awards
The Minnesota State Bar Association-Public Law Section (PLS) invites nominations for awards honoring attorneys and judges engaged in public service and in the public practice of law. Through these awards the PLS celebrates our commitment to public service and the public practice of law. These awards are also used to recognize attorneys and judges who have distinguished themselves by their significant and outstanding contributions to public service and the public practice of law. Nominations are due April 1, 2014. Please contact the chair of the Awards Committee or any executive council member of the PLS for further information about the awards. A nominee does not need to be a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association to be eligible for an award. The awards include:
1. Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence
2. Julios E. Gernes Prosecutor Award of Excellence
3. William E. McGee Public Defender Award of Excellence
4. Public Attorney Awards of Excellence
Civil Law: Public Law Office Counsel
In-House Agency Counsel
5.Douglas K. Amdahl Public Attorney Career Achievement Award
6.P. Kenneth Kohnstamm Pro Bono Attorney Award of Excellence
Click here for more infomation on award nominations.
Click here to view a list of prior award recipients.
PLS in Action - Public Service News
Loaves & Fishes
PLS members and their friends came together on October 2 and December 4 to prepare food for the approximately 300 men, women and children who come to the Loaves & Fishes dinner at Holy Rosary church off Cedar Ave. and 26th St. in south Minneapolis. For many years the Public Law Section covered the cost of the food for the meal, approximately $600. Due to reduced revenues, the PLS can now only contribute $300 to the effort. Individual contributions have been making up the difference. Thank you to Nancy McLean, Nancy Gove, Lynn Belgea, Nancy Norman and Kim Buechel Mesun for their generous contributions. Also thanks to the University of Wisconsin – Madison Alumni who have been serving and cleaning up after the bimonthly meal and have been providing the fruit. If you are interested in participating in the meal cooking or set up or making a financial contribution towards the cost of the food, please contact Kim Buechel Mesun at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next meals will be prepared and served on February 5 and April 2.
Sponsor a Family
The PLS participation in Sponsor a Family was a little different this year. Previously, PLS worked through Catholic Charities to find families to sponsor for the holidays through the purchase of gifts and gift cards. This year Catholic Charities decided not to be involved with the Sponsor a Family effort and instead a separate non-profit was organized specifically for the purpose – Sponsor a Family MN. All of the sign up and communication was done electronically this year so the exact number of public lawyers involved is not known. We do know that at least four families were sponsored by PLS members and that individual financial contributions were made. If you know of people who participated in the effort, please contact Corrine Heine at email@example.com so that we can plan for next year.
Kim Mesun prepares gift tags and Nan Miller wraps the gifts purchased by the members
of the Minneapolis Public Schools General Counsel’s Office for the family they sponsored this year.
Habitat for Humanity Landscaping Project
Members of the PLS met on Saturday, October 5 to do gardening and lawn work for a family in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. People who participated were Margaret Westin, Nancy Norman, Alexandra McWhorter, Whitney Brooke, and Jim Alexander. The cool and damp weather was perfect for planting, moving perennials, spreading mulch, and preparing a vegetable garden for spring planting. As a bonus, the volunteers were treated to a wonderful lunch prepared by the host family!
Undone Stuffed Pepper Casserole
1 lb lean ground beef
2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked long–grain white or brown rice
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 ½ cups shredded cheese
Heat oven to 350°.
Brown meat with peppers and garlic in large skillet; drain. Stir in rice, spaghetti sauce and ¾ c cheese.
Spoon into 2 qt casserole sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining cheese.
Bake 25 min. or until heated through.
Makes 7 one cup servings.
We had a bumper crop of peppers this year and I found this recipe after we tired of making the traditional stuffed peppers. This recipe freezes well and can be made in the crock pot. We needed to use peppers but you can substitute cabbage for the green pepper and have “Undone Cabbage Rolls”
We preferred more peppers. I used a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. I added salt, pepper and onion to the meat as it browned. I used ½ jar of spaghetti sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes. I added ½ package of taco seasoning. You can add corn. To make it creamier, you can add 2 tbsp cream cheese.
Department of Administration
Advisory Opinions Index
This index uses the Department of Administration’s opinion numbers, dates of opinion, government entity involved and opinion requester. We add a brief topic description. Text of the 2013 opinions is available on line at http://www.ipad.state.mn.us/docs/opinions2013.html .
No. of Opinion
Date of Opinion
Gov’t Entity Involved
City of Mound
Open Meeting Law: Minn. Stat. sections 13D.01 & 13D.03
Closing a meeting to consider labor negotiations strategy
City of Spring Lake Park
Data Practices Act: Minn. Stat. sections 13.03 & 13.82
Classification of driver’s license and law enforcement data elements collected by a local police department
City of Spring Lake Park, Speltz
MN Housing Finance Agency (MN Housing)
Data Practices Act: Minn. Stat. section 13.05
Preparation of summary data
MN Housing, Sporlein
Open Meeting Law: Minn. Stat sections 13D.01 & 13D.04
Bodies subject to the Open Meeting Law; use of email communications; preparation of meeting agenda; notice of special meetings
Prepared by Lynn Belgea
Upcoming CLE programs for Public Lawyers
Award Winning advocates to present at PLS’s annual CLE
Representatives from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) will speak on Friday, May 16th, 2014, at the MSBA’s Public Law Section’s Annual Meeting CLE. The council’s executive director, Lori Saroya, Esq., and its Civil Rights Director, Saly Abd Alla, Esq., will address issues facing Minnesota’s substantial Muslim community. CAIR’s Minnesota chapter has been recognized by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits with their Mission and Excellence Anti-Racism Award in 2011 and the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division with their 2013 Difference Makers Award. Standard and Elimination of Bias credit will be sought for this presentation.
Ms. Saroya and Ms. Abd Alla (pictured left to right)
Report from the ABA's Midyear Meeting in Chicago, February 10, 2014
The ABA’s House of Delegates convenes twice a year to review recommendations on resolutions submitted by various entities of the Association. The resolutions passed by this body become ABA policy that influences future legislation, education policy, the courts and other important initiatives. Some of these policies should be of interest to public lawyers. At their last meeting, The House of Delegates, in part, approved resolutions urging businesses to adopt and implement policies on labor trafficking and child labor; urging governments to ensure that juveniles are provided effective appellate representation; urging state governments to apply administrative procedure acts’ notice and comment rule-making provisions to regulations governing correctional facilities and officers; urging governments to adequately fund judicial system security protocols and urging courts to review security system protocols so they may communicate their needs to policy makers; urging governments to enact and implement legislation and policies which prohibit youth from transitioning from foster care to a status of homelessness.
To view a full summary of all the resolutions by the ABA’s House of Delegates follow this link:
Local Rule Amendments
The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota has approved amendments to the Court's Local Rules, effective November 18, 2013. Local Rules 83.8 and 83.13 are amended. In addition, the Court has approved a new form, Student Practice Certification and Notice of Appearance of Student Attorney. To see the public notice, amended rules, and new form, visit the Court's website at: www.mnd.uscourts.gov.
On Demand CLE Credits Approved by Minnesota Supreme Court Effective 7/1/14.
Starting July 1, 2014 lawyers will be allowed to claim 15 of their 45 required CLE credits every 3 years using “on demand” course credits. “On demand” courses are defined by the court as “archived CLE programming that meets all the requirements of Rule 5A and is available to participants at any time.” To see the full amendments to the CLE rules approved by the court go to http://www.mncourts.gov/Documents/0/Public/Clerks_Office/Rule%20Amendments/ADM098008-120613.pdf.
The MSBA Public Law Section is seeking
nominations for positions on the 2014-15 Council.
Please submit your statement of interest to Jennifer Brask at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1, 2014.
Laura Zajac- (651) 284-5019
Corrine Heine - (952) 939-8262
Ariel Pittner - email@example.com
Colin Laffey - firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to the Section Website