Public Law Newsletter | Spring 2019 | Volume XXIX Issue 1

by Abby Ward | Dec 18, 2019

Issue Editor: Katherine Swenson, Attorney, Greene Espel 

The 2018-19 Public Law Section Council members are:

Amelia Jadoo, Co-Chair, Dakota County Attorney's Office
Daniel Abelson, Co-Chair, Metropolitan Council
Lynn Belgea, Treasurer, Minnesota Department of Health
Nancy Norman Sommer, Secretary, Anoka County Attorney's Office
Margaret Jacot, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Justin Kwong, Minnesota Department of Health
Nate LaCoursiere, Senior Lecturer, Legal Studies & Criminal Justice, University of Wisconsin
Ethan Landy, Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry
Cathy Miller, Rice County Attorneys Office
Amy Schmidt, Ramsey County Attorneys Office
Inta Sellars, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Katherine Swenson, Greene Espel PLLP
Amanda Harrington, Law Student Liaison- University of St. Thomas School of Law
Hillary Hoffman, Law Student Liaison- University of Minnesota School of Law
Marissa Wunderlich, Law Student Liaison- Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Notice of Solicitation of Nominations for Public Law Section Attorney Awards

It is that time of year again when we ask you to nominate those exceptional attorneys that you work with each and every day.  The Public Law Section has seven (7) categories for awards honoring attorneys and judges engaged in public service and in the public practice of law. We’re asking for your help in identifying them.  These 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 March 29, 2019. Please contact Kara Haro or any executive council member of the PLS 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. The awards will be presented on May 31, 2019 at the Public Law Section Annual CLE and Awards meeting at the Midland Hills Country Club.  
The categories for nominations are:
1. Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence  
This award is named for former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Wahl whose work as a Justice encompassed the attributes of the award. Justice Wahl was highly regarded, not only for her work as a judge but also for her dedication to and tireless efforts on projects improving the justice system. Read more...
2. Julius E. Gernes Prosecutor Award of Excellence  
This award is intended to recognize the work and dedication of an outstanding public attorney working in the State of Minnesota as a County/City Attorney and/or as a criminal prosecutor at the federal, state, or local level. Read more...
3. William E. McGee Public Defender Award of Excellence  
The William E. McGee Public Defender Award of Excellence is intended to recognize the work and dedication of an outstanding public attorney working in the State of Minnesota as a public defender at the federal, state, or local level. Read more...  
4. Public Attorney Awards of Excellence  
There are two Public Attorney Awards of Excellence. These awards are the primary method of recognizing the work and dedication of outstanding public sector attorneys. Award recipients are selected from the following areas: Civil Law (Public Law Office Counsel) & In-House Agency Counsel. Read more...
5. Douglas K. Amdahl Public Attorney Career Achievement Award  
This award is intended to recognize retired or retiring public attorneys who have had distinguished careers as public attorneys, have made many significant contributions to public service and are recognized as models of the dedication and commitment of public attorneys. This award may be given to more than one recipient per year.  
6. P. Kenneth Kohnstamm Pro Bono Attorney Award of Excellence  
This award is intended to recognize an outstanding public attorney (or public law office) who has engaged in activities that show dedication and commitment to provide volunteer services to underserved communities. Read more...
7. Public Lawyer Diversity Award
This award recognizes outstanding effort and dedication by a public lawyer or office or organization of public lawyers in Minnesota who has had a demonstrated impact on (i) improving the employment opportunities for lawyers from groups historically under-represented because of race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental disability or sexual orientation or (ii) eliminating bias based on race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental disability and sexual orientation in employment of lawyers.  Read more...
Your nomination should consist of the following:  
1) Nominee's full name, employer, address and telephone number;  
2) Nominator's name, employer, address and telephone number;  
3) Attach a short narrative statement (not to exceed two pages) explaining how you know the nominee and describing the nominee's qualifications for the award; and  
4) Nominee's resume, if available.

A list of previous recipients can be found here.
Nominations must be submitted no later than March 29, 2019. Please submit nominations to Kara Haro via email, fax or mail (email with attachments in MS Word is preferred): 
Kara Haro
600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 380  
Minneapolis, MN 55402 
By Dan Abelson, Metropolitan Council, and Nancy Norman, Assistant Anoka County Attorney

Public Law Section Membership Online Directories 

By: Ethan Landy, Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry
Did you know that there are two directories for the Public Law Section that you can access as a Section member? 
1)    Accessing the directory on the Communities page (
The Public Law specific directory can be found on the Section’s Community page ( There is a tab for “Members” alongside other tabs: Community Home, Discussion, Library, and Events. This tab lists all section members, their affiliation (if filled in), and allows for a user to send an individual a message or add them as a contact.

Eyes on the Court 

By: Patricia Beety, League of Minnesota Cities
City of Richfield v. Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. (LELS), A17-1275, Minnesota Supreme Court, Feb. 13, 2019
In a case closely watched by public employer and employee groups alike, the Minnesota Supreme Court, for only the second time, issued a decision involving the narrow public policy exception to the finality and validity of arbitration awards.  The City of Richfield was seeking to vacate an arbitration award reinstating a police officer, Nathan Kinsey, who the city discharged for failing to report use of force and violating other policies.  Before the incident which resulted in the city’s termination decision, Kinsey was reprimanded for failing to justify his use of force in a report; counseled on four occasions on his deficiencies in reporting the use of force; and required to complete 80 hours of remedial training on the use of force and report writing.

Start of the 2019 Legislative Session  

By: Anne Sexton, Assistant Revisor, in collaboration with the attorneys and staff at the Office of the Revisor of Statutes
Minnesota entered its 91st legislative session and the well-established adage that no two sessions are the same continues to hold true. The halls of the capitol complex are filled with faces new and old. After the November elections, the house of representatives flipped to Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party control and the senate retained a one-seat Republican Party majority. 
A new governor’s administration and the accompanying agency appointments also changed the face of the legislature. Senator Tony Lourey was appointed the commissioner of human services. In a special election on February 5th, Representative Jason Rarick won former Senator Lourey’s seat, which solidified a two-member Republican Party majority in the senate. Rarick’s win triggers another special election for his house seat. Read more...

News from the Bench

By: Kim Mesun, Minneapolis School District
Governor Walz has selected Lola Velazquez-Aguilu to serve as the Chair of the Commission on Judicial Selection. With an extensive and proven legal record in both the private and public sectors, Velazquez-Aguilu will Chair the Commission she has served on since 2016.
In her time on the Commission on Judicial Selection, Ms. Velazquez-Aguilu participated in the selection and appointment of 13 new judges. She currently serves as Litigation and Investigations Counsel at Medtronic. Previously, she has served as an Assistant United States Attorney, an Associate at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, and as a law clerk for the Honorable Ann Montgomery and the Honorable Alan Page. Velazquez-Aguilu has also served as the Co-Chair of the United States District Court Magistrate Merit Selection Panel, on the Transition Committee for Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison, and as President of the Infinity Project. She has shown dedication to improving the judiciary by serving on the Minnesota Federal Bar Association’s Diversity Strategic Planning Committee and as Chair of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association’s Judicial Endorsements Committee. Ms. Velazquez-Aguilu attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she received her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees.

Department of Administration Advisory Opinion Index  

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 opinions is available online in the Data Practices Office Opinion Library at  

No. of Opinion

Date of Opinion

Gov’t Entity Involved


Opinion Requester






Metropolitan Emergency Services Board (MESB)


Data Practices Act: Minn. Stat. sections 13.01, subd. 3, & 466.03, subd. 21


Classification of data in a geospatial dataset created and maintained by the MESB









St. Louis County


Data Practices Act: Minn. Stat. section 13.601, subd. 2


Classification of correspondence between an elected official and a person who acts on behalf of an organization



Star Tribune, Walker


PLS Public Service Projects 

By: Kim Mesun, Minneapolis School District
On October 3, 2018, nine volunteers prepared the famous PLS Tator Tot Hot Dish, green beans, oranges and chocolate chip cookies for about 70 adults and children.  The left overs were packed up and refrigerated at RMH for later consumption by the families.  Thank you to volunteers Ann Rodel, Margaret Westin, Laura Zrust, Nancy Norman, Beth Gloppen, John Kedrowski, Justin Kwong, Jessica Kuefler and Kim Mesun for preparing and serving the meal and for clean up.  Thank you to Kim Mesun for Halloween treats and decorations to supplement the food paid for by the Public Law Section. 


PLS Public Service Project 

By Kim Mesun, Minneapolis School District

June 6, 2018
As the weather changed instantly from winter to summer the Cooking for Kids volunteers once again cooked up tacos and taco salads.  The June crowd was double that of April and only fast thinking by some of the volunteers saved the day by stretching the food to accommodate the larger turn out.  This time ten volunteers utilized their culinary skills to cook and serve up the tacos, black bean and corn salad, oranges and chocolate chip cookies to the almost 100 adults and children present.  Thank you to volunteers Laura Booth, Nancy McLean, Nancy Gove, Tina Casey, Emily Schnaidt, Beth Gloppen, Renee Fritz, Justin Kwong, Ann Rodel, and Kim Mesun.  Thank you to the PLS section for funds for the food and to Kim Mesun for the summer-themed paper products.


Upcoming Public Law Section CLEs

By: Kate Swenson, Greene Espel PLLP
Each year, the Public Law Section offers a great selection of upcoming CLEs. Watch for upcoming emails announcing registration.
March 29, 2019: "Constitutional Litigation- A History and Overview of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983" 
Bradford Colbert and Andrew Wolf will explore the evolution of Constitutional litigation under one of the central statutes of United States civil rights law; 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. Lunch, registration, and networking at 11:45 a.m.  Program time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.  Location: Room B-145, Minnesota Department of Health (Freeman Building), 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul.   Register here by March 27.
April 2019: TBD.
May 17, 2019: Christy Hall from Gender Justice will speak on the topic of gender bias. More information soon to follow.
May 31, 2019: Public Law Section Annual CLE and Meeting. The CLE Program will go from approximately 9:00-11:00 a.m. From 11:00-11:30 a.m. there is networking and the lunch and annual meeting will go from 11:30 a.m-1:00 p.m. Location: Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham St., Roseville, MN 55113. More information soon to follow.
If you have a CLE suggestion, please email it directly to
Here is a list of the CLEs offered earlier in 2018-2019:
Employment Law 101 For Government Attorneys
The World of Election Cybersecurity
The Constitutionality of 5/4 Split Decisions in the Supreme Court: Separation of Power Issues
Public Meetings: Open for Business
Intellectual Property for Government Attorneys
You can view documents from these CLE and previous ones on the Public Law Section Community in the Library/CLE Materials at or by clicking here


Spring Recipe

Vegetarian Hotdish- the famed tater tot meal that the Public Law Section prepares for its service events at Ronald McDonald House!
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 packages of sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp garlic powder (or garlic salt, if that’s all that’s available)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley, chopped, keeping a pinch in reserve for garnish.
1 large can, low-sodium cream of mushroom (or other condensed soup of choice)
1 cup milk (plus more as needed)
2 12 oz. packages frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green beans, peas, and carrots)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 large package frozen seasoned shredded potatoes, such as Ore-Ida Tater Tots®
Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms, onions, garlic powder, pepper (BUT NO SALT YET—it makes the mushrooms sad and runny) and sauté until browned and mushrooms have reduced by at least half.  Now add a 1/2 tsp salt and toss briefly.  Stir in chopped parsley, let cook for about a minute, then add mushroom soup and milk to thin it out.  Heat through, about 3-4 minutes, then take pan off the heat.  Add frozen vegetables and mix with one cup of shredded cheese.  Add additional milk if too thick.  Adjust seasoning if needed, then spoon mixture into a 9x13 baking dish.  Top with tater tots and cook until tots are browned on top and mushroom mixture is bubbling.  Add remaining cheese and bake until cheese melts.  Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

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