New judge named for Carlton County
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Duluth attorney Leslie Beiers as the new Carlton County Sixth Judicial District judge to replace retiring Judge Dale Wolf.
She is the first woman magistrate ever appointed for the local courthouse and the first judicial appointment from outside the county pool of qualified practicing attorneys. She had spent some time working in the Carlton County Attorney's Office during Marv Ketola's tenure.
This comes just after the interim appointment of Amy Turnquist, court administrator of the Duluth courthouse, as the court administrator for the Carlton County courthouse. Major changes within the court system are coming. Preparations are almost complete for a drug court to handle the growth of cases in that area. A big initiative is being set into place where some court proceedings can be conducted via the Internet and is called E-Court.
Linda Krug, the spouse of Judge Beiers, is a Duluth city councilor and is a member of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission. She has stated that she recused herself from the voting. This commission screens interested attorneys and usually sends three to five names to the governor for each vacancy for his consideration. There were two vacancies in this Sixth Judicial District, one in the Duluth courthouse and one in the Carlton courthouse.
Four names were proposed to the governor for both jobs and no Carlton County attorney was included on that list — only one Carlton County candidate was screened by the commission. Several highly qualified Carlton County candidates had applied. Beiers for Carlton and Teresa Neo for Duluth were Gov. Dayton's picks.
There has been much political chatter about the appointments. "I am very disappointed," commented Patty Murto, former county commissioner and director of the Volunteer Attorney Program for Northeast Minnesota. "It is hard to be perceived an impartial judge when the selection process is not fair."
Murto went on to explain, "I served on the Judicial Merit Selection Commission during the Gov. Perpich tenure. My job as a local Sixth Judicial representative on that commission was to go through all the attorney applications and list their strengths and weaknesses. I was the local resource person. Krug involved on such a commission is the worst kind of nepotism."
Judge Beiers will be up for election in the 2016 general election cycle.
Bat may be listed as endangered
Land Commissioner Greg Bernu reported at the Committee of the Whole meeting last week that U.S. Fish and Game is considering listing the Northern Long-eared bat as an endangered species. Action is expected as soon as October 2014. The bat, common in the region, has lost most of its population due to a fungus introduced from Europe causing white-nose syndrome. It has been spread on the shoes of outdoors enthusiasts and cave explorers. There are 11 caves and tunnels that house these bats for hibernation in the winter just in Minnesota.
Summer habitat includes forests, buildings and bridges for daylight roosting. Active at night, they eat more insects than their body weight each feeding cycle. Many of the locals have found them in cracks of eves, attics, hollow trees, wooden shingles, hollow trees, and cracked tree bark areas.
How does this impact this area? Rules proposed by Fish and Game include major requirements guarding bat habitat during building and bridge construction or renovation during the short building season. Bernu pointed out, "For example, 34 of our remaining logging contractors will be unable to harvest wood in the spring, summer, and fall for fears bat habitat will be compromised. Most older trees have the potential to be a summer safe haven for these bats. The impact on the building trades and infrastructure work during our short summer building season will be major."
The public comment period is over and Fish and Game will decide to list the bat as an endangered species in October 2014 or withdraw any proposed action.