Support for Judges Austad, Halverson
I recently retired after 13 years as an Assistant Cass County Attorney, with 37 years of legal experience. I personally observed the practices of the judicial challengers — County Attorney Ben Lindstrom and James Hughes, Executive Director of the Regional Native Public Defense Corporation. I also regularly appeared in front of Judges Austad and Halverson.
The challengers question the appointment of judges by “St. Paul,” suggesting they do not represent “local values.” Our Constitution, however, requires the Governor to appoint successors to fill judicial vacancies. The Governor may only appoint an attorney who resides within the District, and candidates are vetted by the Minnesota Judicial Selection Committee. This objective process has supplanted the “good old boys” network and ensures that only qualified local candidates are put forward for appointment.
The challengers also imply that the incumbent judges are somehow soft on setting bail. Article 1, Sec. 7 of our Constitution provides that all persons are entitled to bail before conviction. Cass County Courts use a bail evaluation by which objective criteria are reviewed to ensure that similar defendants are treated equally and that public safety concerns are addressed. Most Minnesota counties use a similar tool.
The challengers also suggest that the incumbent judges should send more people to prison. Minnesota judges are required to apply state guidelines when imposing and executing prison sentences. For more information, see https://mn.gov/sentencing-guidelines/about/
I encourage you to vote for Judge Jana Austad and Judge Charles Halverson — judges who follow the law rather than advancing a personal agenda.