Walz Picks Worthington Judge Gordon Moore for Supreme Court


(Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tom Walz used his first appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court on Friday to elevate Gordon Moore, a district judge from southwestern Minnesota, to replace the retiring Associate Justice David Lillehaug.

Moore, 57, currently serves in Worthington, which is in Nobles County and where he has lived for about 25 years. He was previously the county’s chief prosecutor. He has also worked in private practice and he served as an assistant attorney general under Hubert Humphrey III. He grew up in Rochester, graduated from Mayo High School, got his bachelor’s degree at Carleton College in Northfield, met his wife and got married in Mankato, and got his law degree from the University of Iowa.

“It was resoundingly clear that he’s a man with a strong moral compass, a deep sense of compassion, and a thoughtful and diligent mind,” Walz said at a news conference. “He’s a dad, he’s a husband, youth soccer and hockey coach. Without a doubt, Judge Moore is a person of the highest caliber.”

The governor said Moore will likely be sworn on Aug. 1.

“I pledge to you, members of the judiciary and the state of Minnesota, to work hard with the goal of securing impartial justice for all Minnesotans.,” Moore said. ”That has been my work in the judicial area and my legal area for the last 32 years, and that will continue to be my touchstone.”

The three other finalists were Minnesota Court of Appeals Judges Diane Bratvold and Jeffrey Bryan, and Chief Deputy Attorney General John Keller. Walz said his desire to bring some geographical diversity to the state’s highest court was a factor in his decision.

Moore alluded to Worthington’s struggles with COVID-19. The JBS pork plant there is the site of one of Minnesota’s biggest workplace coronavirus outbreaks. He said his experience in Worthington has given him “knowledge and deep respect for all types of citizens, both the fourth-generation farmer that’s coming into my courtroom as well as the first-generation immigrant who’s perhaps been here for just a few months, seeking relief.”

Minnesota’s courts are also struggling with COVID-19, which has disrupted normal operations and put many proceedings on hold while forcing others online.

Moore said he’s hoping Minnesota can avoid a flood of litigation over COVID-19, noting the ruling Wednesday by the conservative-dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court that overturned Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order.

“My hope that consensus could be reached and cooler heads will prevail, and that frankly we won’t have some of the scenarios that have occurred in Wisconsin, which has been terribly divisive,” Moore said. He added that the Minnesota Supreme Court, in contrast, has been “a model for this nation of impartiality and collegiality.”

Five of Minnesota’s seven current justices were appointed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the other two were appointed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but the high court generally has avoided bitter ideological splits. Walz noted that more than 70% of its decisions are unanimous.

Moore said Minnesota’s courts need to be “very cautious about resuming normal operations” amid the pandemic, noting that they’re embarking on a pilot program to test how to reopen safely as the state gradually lifts its stay-at-home restrictions.

“I don’t believe we can have fair trials if the jurors don’t feel safe,” Moore said. “I don’t think defendants are going to get justice, I don’t think anybody’s going to get justice.”

Categories: Minnesota, News, News – Latest News