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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

E-mail etiquette -- Judicial candidate's edition

There's an interesting article in the PiPress today involving the judicial race between Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea and her challenger, Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. According to the press report, the owner of a sign-making company sent Hedlund an e-mail with the subject line, "Can Muslims Be Good Americans?" The e-mail includes false claims that Barack Obama is a Muslim and that he won't salute the flag or put his hand on his heart during the national anthem. At some point the e-mail, which I have not seen, apparently goes on to talk about campaign signs.

Hedlund starts her response to the sender as follows: "We speak the same language. And I still need to let voters know they have a choice to 'Seek Justice, Vote For Experience' for the Minnesota Supreme Court." Hedlund went on to discuss the details of the campaigns signs before inadvertantly hitting the "reply to all" button. Somebody forwarded a copy of the exchange to the PiPress.

Hedlund told the PiPress that she was ignoring the first part of the e-mail and that she went right to the sign discussion. The "speaking the same language" comment referred strictly to the sign discussion, she says.

Given the context and the remarks that follow afterward, I think her explanation is possible, maybe even plausible. However, Hedlund then digs herself into another hole. Stressing how busy she has been with her campaign and judicial duties, she responds to the PiPress as follows when asked whether she thought Obama was a Muslim:

"I have no idea what he is. My level of information about the presidential candidates would not fill a thimble."

Hmmm. Coming from a candidate for a high public office, I find that statement disturbing. I mean the presidential elections are fairly important, aren't they? Can you really be an effective Supreme Court justice with a thimble-full of knowledge about the incoming president? Don't we have a civic duty to educate ourselves on the elections? In short, the response strikes me as ill-advised.

Perhaps we can chalk it all up to a case of foot-in-mouth disease (just ask Michele Bachmann). But it certainly doesn't help to have an embarrassing episode like this late in the campaign. Plus Gildea and Hedlund were both scheduled to go before the PiPress editorial board today seeking the paper's endorsement. I wonder how that went?


Anonymous said...

Was Deborah Hedlund careless in sending the e-mail to all recipients of the original bigoted e-mail?

Was Deborah Hedlund reckless in replying to an e-mail without even reading the subject line of "Can Muslims Be Good Americans?"

Or was Deborah Hedlund dishonest in her claims about whether she was agreeing with the sender's xenophobic message when she told him that they "speak the same language?"

Is Deborah Hedlund careless and reckless, or dishonest and bigoted? Either way, this does not make for a good recommendation for her Supreme Court candidacy.

What is really troubling is that Hedlund is going to be on the Hennepin County bench for the next four years.

Every litigant or defendant is going to have to wonder what hatreds Judge Ding Dong is harboring behind that furrowed brow as she views parties, witnesses, jurors, and counsel.

Anonymous said...

If this is a reason to pick up a paper and have one read such pathetic trash just to get company sales, or to get people talking,
than this truly is a country going in the wrong direction.

SAD! ! !

Anonymous said...

Anonymus? You are not anonymus - clearly, ignorant maybe. Coincidence that this smear comes days before the election - I think not. Get some basis to your claims before you spread lies. These are the ramblings of someone who is running scared and doesn't believe even the incumbent label can carry a campaign. Rumor has it there is a debate on 10/29/08 where the two candidates will square off on the issues - attend ,get some real information then and ONLY then should you pass your judgement.