ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton appointed well-known attorney David Lillehaug to the Minnesota State Supreme Court.
The 58-year-old is a former Federal U.S. Attorney now in private practice at the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron.
He’s a graduate of Augustana College and Harvard Law School.
When Minnesota had a state government shutdown a couple of years ago, Lillehaug was the attorney Dayton hired to get a handle on the complex legal issues the state was confronting.
Lillehaug built a reputation as a go-to guy when Democrats had tough political problems, almost always coming out on top.
Dayton calls him highly regarded in political and legal circles.
“He’s one of the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered,” Dayton said. “Yet he can put very complex legal issues into very understandable writings.”
Lillehaug is the son of an Augustana College Vikings band director, to whom he paid tribute Tuesday.
“I’m wearing his lucky Vikings ship cufflinks today,” Lillehaug said.
Lillehaug’s best known for his public and political service. He sued the state to keep concealed weapons out of churches, led the election recount efforts for Democratic Sen. Al Franken, and Dayton, who appointed him.
“I will leave behind the world of advocacy, and I will swear a solemn oath to be fair and impartial,” Lillehaug said. “I will swear to apply the law, without fear or favor.”
Lillehaug replaces Justice Paul Anderson, who is stepping down at the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Anderson had advice for his replacement: don’t apologize or explain your road to the High Court.
“Don’t let anyone take shots at you because you have been involved politically,” Anderson said. “That’s one of my criticisms of the U.S. Supreme Court. We need people who have been in the trenches.”
Lillehaug will be sworn in on May 31, the day Anderson officially retires.
Under Minnesota law, Lillehaug will have to run for election in 2014.