Former state Rep. Paul Thissen sworn in to Minnesota Supreme Court
Former state Rep. Paul Thissen donned a black robe and joined the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday, the only former legislator among the justices currently serving on the states highest court.
Thissen, appointed earlier this year by Gov. Mark Dayton, said at his swearing in ceremony that hell use that experience and time listening to residents across the state to guide his work in his new role.
It is an honor to be joining all of you, he told a crowd of judges at the ceremony. This court sets a very high standard of collegiality and a willingness to work together that is really too rare these days.
Hes the 95th associate justice named to the court and the only one to have served in the Legislature and on the court in the same calendar year. Thissen succeeds David Stras, who left the Minnesota court after being appointed to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Donald Trump.
Thissens arrival on the court solidifies a five-member progressive majority on the seven-member court thats likely to endure long after the governor leaves office in January.
Hes one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, honest and honorable public officials I have worked with throughout my career, Dayton said of Thissen.
At the ceremony, former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz said the court needs different backgrounds. It already has a female majority. More than a dozen former legislators have served on the Supreme Court throughout the states history, but Thissen is the only former legislator now on the court.
He has never lost sight of the fact that he is deeply connected to the people of this state, Blatz said.
The Minnesota Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, considered the last resort for cases in dispute. The court reviews petitions in about 700 cases a year.
This year, the courts actions have included approving allowing cameras in the courtroom in certain cases, deciding that Victoria City Council members who violated the state Open Meeting Law dozens of times cant be removed from office, and ruling, in part, for a group of Bloomington residents who sued the city after it adopted organized trash collection.
In front of a couple hundred colleagues, friends and family, judges and community leaders, Thissen was sworn in Tuesday on a Bible held by his wife, Karen Wilson Thissen, who is executive vice president and general counsel at Ameriprise Financial, while his three children looked on.
Thissen, 51, graduated from Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School. He then clerked for a member of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and served as an appellate-level public defender before entering private practice. He was a shareholder at the Twin Cities firm Briggs and Morgan before joining Ballard Spahr (formerly Lindquist Vennum) in Minneapolis.
Thissen, a Minneapolis DFLer, was in the Legislature for 16 years, including five years as the leader of the DFL caucus and a stint as Speaker of the House in 2013-14. He unsuccessfully ran for governor twice.
He is Daytons sixth Supreme Court appointment during his eight years in office. Five of the high courts seven justices are Dayton appointees.
They represent a better diversity of Minnesota, what Minnesota is today, than perhaps before, Dayton said of the justices. I want them to make their own best decisions to do whats right for Minnesota.
Kelly Smith 612-673-4141