Public Law Newsletter | Winter 2017 | Volume XXVII Issue 1

by Shawn Carlson | Mar 22, 2017
Issue Editor: Lynn M. Belgea, Minnesota Department of Health

Notice of Annual Meeting and CLE

The MSBA Public Law Section’s annual meeting and CLE will be held on Friday, May 5, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. at the Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham Street, Roseville, Minnesota. As part of the annual meeting and CLE, the Section will be collecting new and gently-used children’s books for distribution to local agencies that serve families.

The topic of the CLE will be the 2016 elections. A group of distinguished speakers will address the election’s implications on public lawyers, the ethical implications raised in the first 100 days of the Administration, and coping with change. We will apply for 3 CLE credits.

Please mark your calendars.

Notice of Solicitation of Nominations for Election

The MSBA Public Law Section is seeking nominations for positions on the 2017-18 Council. There are four officer positions with a one-year term and four council member positions with a two-year term. There is also a vacancy in a current position with one year of the term remaining. The election will be held at the Section’s annual meeting and luncheon on Friday, May 5, 2017. Please submit your statement of interest to Shawn Carlson, , by March 31, 2017.

Nominating Committee
Katie Engler, 651-793-2721
Margaret Westin,763-391-7083


Public Law Section Seeks Nominations for 2017 Public Attorney Awards

The MSBA Public Law Section invites nominations for awards honoring attorneys and judges engaged in public service and in the public practice of law. Through these awards the PLS celebrates our commitment to public service and the public practice of law. The awards are also used to recognize attorneys and judges who have distinguished themselves by their significant and outstanding contributions to public service and the public practice of law. Nominations are due to Shawn Carlson at by March 31, 2017. Please contact the chair of the Awards Committee or any PLS executive council member for further information about the awards. A nominee does not need to be a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association to be eligible for an award.

Click here for information about the award categories

Click here to view prior award recipients

Awards Committee (for questions) 
Lisa Godon
Hennepin County Attorney’s Office 
300 S. Sixth St.
Minneapolis, MN 55487
(612) 348-5729

Eyes on the Court

By:  Katie Engler, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Harlow v. State of Minnesota, 883 N.W. 2d 561 (Minn. 2016); on remand A14-1342, A14-1343 (Minn. App. 2016)

Dr. Michael Harlow was an employee of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. His employment was terminated following the seclusion and restraint of a vulnerable adult patient. After the incident, two investigations were started:  an employment investigation and maltreatment investigation by the DHS Division of Licensing.  On the completion of the employment investigation, Harlow’s employment was terminated. The maltreatment investigation resulted in an initial finding of substantiated abuse and neglect that was later modified from “substantiated” to “inconclusive.”

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News from the ABA’s House of Delegates 

By Judge Juan Hoyos, Fourth Judicial District 

Report from the ABA’s Midyear Meeting in Miami, February 6, 2017

The ABA’s House of Delegates convenes twice a year to review recommendations on resolutions submitted by various entities of the Association. The resolutions passed by the 589-person body become ABA policy that influences future legislation, education policy, the courts, and other important initiatives.

At its last meeting, the House of Delegates, in part, approved resolutions urging the President to withdraw Executive Order 13769 (restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries) and a separate resolution encouraging individualized assessments of refugee applications; urging all state courts to develop and implement a civil justice improvement plan to improve the delivery of civil justice; urging prosecutor’s offices to adopt and implement internal conviction-integrity policies when an office supports a defendant’s motion to vacate a conviction; urging law enforcement authorities to develop and use translations of Miranda warnings in many languages; urging governments to enact legislation and implement public policy that custody, visitation, and access restrictions not be based on a parent’s disability, and that children not be removed or parental rights terminated based on a parent’s disability, absent a showing that the disability is causally-related to harm or imminent risk to a child; and urging Congress to preserve and develop laws to protect or increase due process for immigrant and asylum-seeking children.

Finally, after heated debate, the House of Delegates did not pass a resolution requiring ABA-approved law schools to have 75 percent of their graduates who take the bar exam, pass it within two years of graduation. The exam is given twice a year. The debate is borne of criticism of law schools and the ABA for allowing the enrollment and graduation of too many law students who cannot pass the bar exam, and who leave law school with significant debt.

To view a full summary of all the resolutions by the ABA’s House of Delegates follow this link:

Public Attorneys on the Move

Beverly Jones Heydinger has retired as Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Prior to being appointed to the PUC, Beverly served as an Administrative Law Judge with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings and in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office as an Assistant Attorney General, Manager, and Deputy.

City Attorney Update

By Dave Goslee, Rochester City Attorney’s Office

The Minnesota Association of City Attorneys’ Education Conference was held February 2-3, 2017, at the Sheraton Bloomington. This year’s informative sessions included presentations on special assessments, data practices, protests and assemblies, small cell deployment, and panhandling, peddling, and other free speech issues.

Thursday afternoon offered several breakout opportunities to choose from. One civil law breakout session was directed at representing challenging city clients and a discussion of the Minnesota Supreme Court decision in Kariniemi v. City of Rockford, dealing with the application of official immunity to a contract city engineer. A second civil law breakout session focused on the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, sex trafficking, employment law, and municipal regulation of short-term lodging, including VRBOs and AirBNBs.  A criminal law breakout session provided information on the regulation of special use vehicles and metrology and physics for lawyers, including the uncertainty of measurement.

Friday morning offered a series of roundtable discussions. Topics included Brady, cloud contracts, drones, and planning/development agreement checklists. The program ended with an excellent elimination of bias presentation regarding implicit bias in the legal profession and strategies for recognizing and overcoming its impact.

The annual conference was presented by GTS Educational Events in cooperation with the League of Minnesota Cities, and continues to be an excellent CLE for public lawyers. As in years past, Tom Grundhoefer, League of Minnesota Cities General Counsel, was present to make sure there were no glitches. Tom passed away unexpectedly last month. He will be missed.

Department of Administration Advisory Opinions Index

Prepared by Lynn M. Belgea, Minnesota Department of Health

This index uses the Department of Administration’s opinion numbers, dates of opinion, government entity involved and opinion requester. We add a brief topic description. Text of the 2016 opinions is available online at .

No. of Opinion

Date of Opinion

Gov’t Entity Involved


Opinion Requester






Westfield Twp.


Open Meeting Law: Minn. Stat. chapter 13D; sections 13D.01, subd. 1 & 13D.04, subd. 2


Adequacy of notice of purpose of special town meeting; propriety of serial meetings with constituents with report at a regular meeting; need for notice of a special meeting where a quorum of the township’s governing body attended a meeting of a separate government entity and received information on matters related to the township’s governing body’s official business









ISD #625

(Saint Paul)


Open Meeting Law: Minn. Stat. chapter 13D; section 13D.01, subd. 1


Propriety of facilitated conversations with a quorum of school board members, board administration, and teachers’ union leadership to improve trust, relationships, communications, and collaborative problem solving among members of the board and between the groups, where the board members do not gather to discuss, decide, or receive information as a group relating to the official business of the governing body



ISD #625,


PLS Public Service Projects

Children’s Book Drive

By Lisa Godon, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office

As public lawyers, many of us were drawn to public service with a goal of helping people and enriching the communities we serve. In that spirit, the Public Law Section is conducting a children’s book drive at the May 5, 2017, annual meeting and CLE. The books will be donated to St. Joseph’s Home for Children, the Hennepin County Domestic Abuse Service Center, and Tubman. New and gently-used books are greatly appreciated, especially board books for toddlers. Please contribute what you can!

Loaves & Fishes

By Kim Buechel Mesun, Minneapolis Public Schools

PLS volunteers meet on the first Wednesday of even-numbered months to prepare the meal at Loaves and Fishes in the basement of Holy Rosary church in South Minneapolis. The next meals prepared will be on April 5 and June 7 starting at 3:00 p.m. The PLS funds approximately $300 of the cost of the food for each meal and the rest is paid for through individual donations. The PLS volunteers (and friends) cook the meal and do set up. Then the University of Wisconsin – Madison alumni come in to serve and clean up. They also bring in fresh fruit for the meal.

If you would like to volunteer or make an individual donation, contact Kim Mesun at .

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Good Winter Recipe: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Submitted by Judge Juan Hoyos, Fourth Judicial District


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, drained
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup fine bulgur
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Cook and stir the onion in the hot oil until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir the garlic into the onion and cook another 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes to the onion mixture; continue to cook and stir another 10 minutes.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock, red lentils, bulgur, rice, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne pepper, and mint to the tomato mixture; season with salt and black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook at a simmer until the lentils and rice are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the soup into a blender to no more than half full. Firmly hold the lid in place and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth; pour into your serving dish. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup in cooking pot.

Pro Bono Corner

By Patricia Beety, League of Minnesota Cities and Chair of the PLS Pro Bono Committee

The Public Law Section’s Pro Bono Committee has been very busy of late. Committee members are in the final stages of updating a model policy for use by public law offices. The model policy builds off the Model Pro Bono Policy for Government/Public Attorneys and Agencies adopted by the MSBA Assembly in 2007. The committee also coordinated a lunch time CLE titled “Pro Bono and the Public Lawyer” that was held in Saint Paul in February. Finally, efforts are underway by the committee to identify statewide pro bono opportunities for interested public lawyers and public law offices. The committee also hopes to routinely provide resources and real life stories and examples of pro bono work by public lawyers -- to help make what is often an uncertain and confusing endeavor less daunting and to foster volunteerism among public lawyers who want to provide needed legal services to people of limited means in Minnesota.

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News from the Bench

Submitted by Kim Buechel Mesun, Minneapolis Public Schools

Hon. Carol Hanks

Governor Dayton appointed Carol M. Hanks as a District Court Judge in Minnesota’s Third Judicial District. This vacancy was created upon the retirement of the Honorable Larry M. Collins, and will be chambered at Waseca in Waseca County.

Ms. Hanks is a shareholder at Patton, Hoversten & Berg, P.A., where she handles cases in family and criminal law, estate planning, and probate and trust administration. Previously, she was a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Renee L. Worke, the Honorable Casey J. Christian, and the Honorable Joseph A. Bueltel in the Third Judicial District. She earned her B.S. from Minnesota State University and her J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

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Annual Report

MSBA Public Law Section
Annual Report


Section Membership

As of June 22, 2020 the Section has 450 members.

Financial Status

The Section had an account balance of $9,386.58 as of May 31, 2020.

CLEs & Events

The Section hosted 7 events in fiscal year 2019-20. 

Program Title


Event Code

CLE Credits

Number of Attendees

MSBA Public Law Data Practices Retreat




2.0 Standard

1.0 Elimination of Bias


Mindfulness – Living a Lower Maintenance Life



1.0 Standard


Anatomy of an Ethics Complaint



1.0 Ethics


Public Service Loan Forgiveness – Where We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We May Be Heading



1.0 Standard


Help for Attorneys in Crisis – Dealing with Lawyer Addiction and Impairment



1.0 Elimination of Bias


Contract Checkup – Diagnosing Problems in State and Municipal Contracts



1.0 Standard


Public Law Section Elections and Q&A





Annual Meeting and Election Results

The Section’s Annual Meeting was held on June 12 and 19 people attended. 

The following new council members were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2022:

• Sarah McGee, Minnesota State Colleges & Universities
• Kathryn Iverson Landrum, Minnesota Attorney General's Office
• Lisa Godon, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office

The following council member was re-elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2022:

• Meg Jacot, Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities

The following council member will serve as an ex officio member of the judiciary on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2021:

• The Honorable Tracy Smith, Minnesota Court of Appeals 

The following council members will continue to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2021:

• Andrew Wold, Minnesota Office of Higher Education 
• Amber Eisenschenk, League of Minnesota Cities 
• Craig Gustafson, Minnesota Department of Transportation 
• Nancy Norman Sommer, Anoka County Attorney's Office

The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2021:

• Co-Chair: Justin Kwong, Minnesota Department of Health 
• Co-Chair: Kate Swenson, Greene Espel, PLLP
• Treasurer: Cathy Miller, Rice County Attorney’s Office    
• Secretary: Ethan Landy, Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry

The following law students will serve on the Section's Governing Council from 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2020:
• Ivy Marsnik, University of Minnesota Law School 
• Cyle Cramer, Mitchell Hamline School of Law 

Diversity and Inclusion
What diversity and inclusion goals did the Section include in the 2019-2020 work plan, how did you approach these goals, and what was the result?

  • The Section completed a Diversity & Inclusion plan in the 2017-2018 year, and the Section referenced this plan as it conducted its 2019-20 business. The Section completed its goal of hosting a CLE in Greater Minnesota when it held its Data Practices Retreat in Baxter, MN. 
  • The Section continued to fill law student representative positions on the Council to ensure there is representation from all three law schools. 
  • The Section provided remote access to most CLEs to provide access to public law attorneys throughout Minnesota. 
  • The Section cultivated COVID-19 resources and made them easily accessible via the Section website. 

Other Section Accomplishments

  • The Section donated funds to the MSBA New Lawyers Leadership Conference ($100), Minnesota Justice Foundation ($250), and Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers ($50). 

Submitted By:
Amelia Jadoo and Justin Kwong, Section Co-Chairs
Date July 8th, 2020