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Governor Pawlenty Names Gildea Chief Justice, Appoints Stras to Supreme Court

Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gildea has served on Supreme Court since 2006, Stras is U of M law professor

Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced the appointment of Lorie Skjerven Gildea to the position of Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and David Stras as Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. 

Justice Gildea has served on the Minnesota Supreme Court since January 2006.  She was previously a Hennepin County District Court Judge and an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney.

Prior to that, Gildea was associate general counsel for the University of Minnesota from 1993 to 2004, and an associate attorney with the law firm of Arent Fox in Washington, D.C. from 1986 to 1993.  Gildea earned her Juris Doctorate degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 1986 and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1983.  While in law school, Gildea achieved among the highest academic honors, including the Order of the Coif.  She also served as an editor of the American Criminal Law Review.

"During her time on the Hennepin County bench and Supreme Court, Justice Gildea has exhibited common sense, a strong intellect, and a commitment to the idea that judges should fairly and appropriately interpret the law, not create it themselves," Governor Pawlenty said.  "She is known for her professionalism and fairness and will be an excellent leader for our Supreme Court and the judicial system."

Gildea, 48, grew up in Plummer and resides in Minneapolis with her husband, Andrew.  She is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and serves on its Council and its Assembly.  Gildea is also a member of the Hennepin County Bar Association and served on its Board of Directors.  She has been a member of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, MINNCOR Industries Advisory Board, and the YWCA of Minneapolis Board of Directors.

David Stras has been a member of the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School since 2004. He teaches and writes in the areas of federal courts and jurisdiction, constitutional law, criminal law, law and politics, and law and economics.  Stras is co-director of the Institute for Law and Politics and is faculty advisor for the Minnesota Law Review.

"Professor Stras is recognized as one of the brightest legal scholars in Minnesota," Governor Pawlenty said.  "He is extremely well-versed in appellate matters and is currently of counsel at Faegre & Benson, LLP, specializing in assisting clients in cases before the Minnesota and federal appellate courts.  I am impressed with his tremendous intellectual and legal abilities.  He will be a strong presence on the Minnesota Supreme Court for many years."

Stras received his Bachelor of Arts degree, with highest distinction, in 1995 and his Master of Business Administration in 1999 from the University of Kansas. He also received his law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1999, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Criminal Procedure Edition of the Kansas Law Review. While in law school, Stras achieved among the highest academic honors, including the Order of the Coif.

Following law school, Stras clerked for The Honorable Melvin Brunetti of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for The Honorable J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. From 2001 to 2002, he practiced white-collar criminal and appellate litigation with the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. Following his year in practice, he clerked for The Honorable Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Stras is a member of the Executive Committee for the Litigation Practice Group and Executive Committee for the Federalism and Separation of Powers Practice Group of the Federalist Society.  He is also a member of the American Law Institute, Minnesota State Bar Association, Federal Bar Association and Bet Shalom Congregation.  He is also the author of numerous scholarly articles and publications. 

Stras, 35, and his wife, Heather, live in Wayzata with their two sons.  Stras was born in Wichita, Kansas.

The Minnesota Supreme Court hears appeals from the Court of Appeals, Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals and Tax Court; reviews first-degree murder convictions, and legislative election disputes.  The Supreme Court consists of seven justices, including one chief justice and six associate justices.