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Friday, May 23, 2008

New chief gets 'deep thoughts' from former chief

Incoming Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson made some insightful remarks at yesterday’s 89th annual Hennepin County Bar Association meeting. (Magnuson will assume the role of top jurist on June 1, when the current chief justice, Russell Anderson, retires.)

Magnuson spent some time discussing the importance of maintaining the independence of the state’s judiciary, as well as the budget shortfall that will affect the courts, attorneys and their clients.

On a less serious note, the incoming chief told a story about his friend and mentor, former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Doug Amdahl. He said that Amdahl was thrilled when he discovered that Magnuson was going to head the state’s highest court and stressed how much he was going to enjoy it.

Said Amdahl with enthusiasm: “It’s the greatest job in the world and you’ll love every minute of it! And when you’re done, you’ll say ‘Hell, I’ll never do that again!’”

It was a joke to be sure, but isn’t there a saying about “truth in jest?”

Undoubtedly, leading the state’s court system, even in prosperous times, is a tough job. So heading the judiciary now -- when money is in short supply and the state could be facing politically charged judicial elections later this year -- will surely be an immense challenge.

I, for one, feel confident that Magnuson is up for the job.

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