Chief justice of Minnesota Supreme Court to resign

KSTP- The chief justice of the state’s highest court announced Thursday that she will resign from her post this fall.

Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea says she’ll resign on Oct. 1, citing her belief that it’s the right time for the transition.

“Although my decision to step down has not been an easy one, I believe this is the right moment for a transition in leadership of the Minnesota Judicial Branch,” Gildea said in a statement. “Our courts have largely recovered from the impacts of the pandemic, we secured important investments for our justice system in the recently completed Legislative Session, our judiciary is on solid fiscal footing, and the Minnesota Judicial Council has adopted an innovative Strategic Plan that will guide the work of our courts in the next biennium. This is a moment of stability and opportunity for our state’s judiciary, and a good time to hand the reins to a new Chief Justice.”

Gildea was initially appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court as an associate justice on Jan. 11, 2006. She became the second woman to become chief justice of the state’s high court when she was appointed to the role on July 1, 2010.

When she steps down on Oct. 1, she’ll have spent more than 13 years as the chief justice, making her the third-longest-serving chief justice in state history and the longest since 1913.

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea speaks with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Eric Chaloux (KSTP).
The Minnesota Judicial Branch says Gildea has presided over “one of the most transformative eras in the history of Minnesota’s judiciary.” During her time as chief justice, the court system has:

  • Moved to an all-electronic case record,
  • Utilized remote hearings and public health protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Adopted a policy that embraces the long-term use of remote hearings, one of the first states to do so,
  • Launched the online court records system,
  • Expanded audio and visual coverage of civil and certain criminal proceedings,
  • Livestreamed Minnesota Supreme Court oral arguments and monthly 8Council meetings.

The branch also notes that, under Gildea, Minnesota:

  • Became one of the highest-scoring states in the Justice Index,
  • Earned national accolades for its work to protect vulnerable adults,
  • Launched an initiative that secured state funding for improving safety and security at court facilities for the first time,
  • More than doubled the number of operational treatment courts throughout the state.

“I am extremely proud of what Minnesota’s judiciary has accomplished over the past 13 years,” Gildea said. “We have made tremendous strides to increase access to justice, modernize the work of our courts, and navigate the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota is viewed as among the most innovative and well-managed court systems in the entire country, and the credit for that success goes to our dedicated judicial branch employees and judges.”

“I want to thank Chief Justice Gildea for her dedicated service to Minnesota,” Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday. “She has been a strong defender of the judicial branch. I have seen firsthand the balance and thoughtfulness she brings to her work each and every day – whether it’s improving and modernizing the judicial branch or serving on the Board of Pardons.”

Walz’s office says the governor will announce the application process to fill Gildea’s spot on the court in the coming weeks.