Public Law Newsletter | Fall 2019 | Volume XXIX Issue 2

by Abby Ward | Dec 19, 2019

Issue Editor: Nancy Norman Sommer, Anoka County Attorney's Office

The 2010-20 Public Law Section Council members are:

Amelia Jadoo, Co-Chair, Dakota County Attorney's Office
Justin Kwong, Co-Chair, Minnesota Department of Health
Lynn Belgea, Treasurer, Minnesota Department of Health
Ethan Landy, Secretary, Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry 
Amber Eisenschenk, Member, League of Minnesota Cities
Craig Gustafson, Member, Minnesota Department of Transportation
Margaret Jacot, Member, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Catherine Miller, Member, Rice County Attorney's Office
Nancy Norman Sommer, Member, Anoka County Attorney's Office
Amy Schmidt, Member, Ramsey County Attorney's Office
Katherine Swenson, Greene Espel PLLP
Andrew Wold, Member, Minnesota Office of Higher Education
Marissa Wunderlich, Student Liaison
Adam Rowe-Johnson, Student Liaison

2019-2020 PLS Council
Andrew Wold, Amy Schmidt, Margaret Jacot, Catherine Miller, Justin Kwong, Amelia Jadoo, Nancy Norman Sommer, Ethan Landy, Amber Eisenschenk and Craig Gustafson.  Not pictured: Lynn Belgea, Hillary Hoffman, Katherine Swenson and Marissa Wunderlich. 

Much thanks to the 2018-2019 Public Law Section Council: 

2018-2019 PLS Council
Amy Schmidt, Catherine Miller, Daniel Abelson, Amelia Jadoo, Margaret Jacot, Lynn Belgea, Nancy Norman Sommer, Ethan Landy, Justin Kwong and Inta Sellars. Not pictured: Nathan LaCoursiere and Katherine Swenson. 

2019 Public Law Section Annual Meeting

By: Justin Kwong, Minnesota Department of Health and Amelia Jadoo, Dakota County Attorney's Office
                                                                         The Honorable Karen Asphaug
The Honorable Karen Asphaug
 On May 31, 2019, the Public Law Section once again held its annual meeting at the Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville.  We presented a two-part CLE on lawyer well-being, with part one “Call to Action: Attorney Well-Being in Public Law Offices,” presented by Chief Judge Edward Cleary and Judge Karen Asphaug.  Judge Asphaug and Chief Judge Cleary talked about the health impacts of our profession and the Call to Action for Lawyer Well-Being initiative sponsored by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers executive director Joan Bibelhausen presented the second part  of the CLE, “Why is Wellness an Ethics Issue? The Impact of Stress and Mental Health on Judges and Public Lawyers,” which qualified for ethics credit. 
Joan Bibelhuasen  
Joan BibelhausenThere are many ways that our jobs can  affect us, even in the public sector.  We often think that it’s the people in the high-rise offices working 80+ hour weeks trying to hit 2200 billable hours who are the ones at risk for burnout or problem drinking, but we deal with a lot of difficult matters in our practices, too.  Whether it’s the prosecutors, public defenders, and judges working on child abuse or neglect cases, agency attorneys and liaisons dealing with legislative hearings and negotiations, or the county attorney fielding endless data practices requests from a local activist, we all face difficulties that can lead to problems in our personal and professional lives.  While there are many resources lawyers can turn to for help, including the Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers released by the ABA last year, some of the most important changes have to come from all of us to reduce the stigma against slowing down and getting help.  Sixty-three people attended the CLEs. Read more...

2019 Public Service Awards 

By: Justin Kwong, Minnesota Department of Health and Nancy Norman Sommer, Anoka County Attorney's Office
With the help of several of our esteemed colleagues, we celebrated this year’s public service award winners. Click here for the 2019 Award Winners... 
Hon. Tammi Fredrickson    
Honorable Tammi Fredrickson, Anoka County District Court Judge received the 2019 Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence.  Judge Fredrickson was not able to be present to accept the award, so it was accepted by her esteemed colleague, Jonathan Jasper.  Unfortunately Judge Fredrickson passed away on June 3, 2019.  The award was presented by Nancy Norman Sommer.
              Jonathan Jasper and Nancy Norman Sommer
             Jonathan Jasper and Nancy Norman Sommer

PLS Public Service Project

By: Kim Mesun, Minneapolis School District 
Ronald McDonald House - Cooking for Kids 
April 3, 2019, 11 volunteers prepared our warm weather menu of beef tacos and taco salads 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 Nancy Gove, Justin Kwong, Nancy Norman, Beth Gloppen, Laura Booth, Inta Sellars, Lisa Jones, Lyle Slawson, Nancy McLean, Steve Fouts, and Kim Mesun for preparing and serving the meal and for clean up.  Thank you to Amber Eisenschenk and Mary Miller for monetary donations, Nancy Norman and Laura Booth for treats for the kids, and Kim Mesun for Easter/Spring decorations and supplementing the food paid for by the Public Law Section.

PLS Ronald McDonald


News from the Bench

By: Kim Mesun, Minneapolis School District
Governor Walz appointed Patrick Goggins as District Court Judge in Minnesota’s First Judicial District.  Mr. Goggins will replace the Honorable Martha Simonett and will be chambered at Le Center in Le Sueur County.  Patrick Goggins was a partner at Wornson Goggins law firm in New Prague. In addition to his law practice, he was also Defense Counsel at Le Sueur County Drug Court, and previously was an attorney at the First Judicial District Public Defender’s Office, and a law clerk in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.  Mr. Goggins is a former member of the St. Wenceslaus Grade School Board, former president of the New Prague Chamber of Commerce and the Eighth District Bar Association.  He received his B.A. from St. Norbert College and his J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.  Read more...

Department of Administration Advisory Opinion Index  

By: Lynn 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


Join the Public Law Section Data Practices Committee

By: Lynn M. Belgea, Minnesota Department of Health
 Data Practices Commitee
If you’re looking for a way to get more involved in the Public Law Section, joining one of our committees may be for you.  The PLS Data Practices Committee meets September through June on the first Monday of every month, unless the first Monday is a holiday. We meet starting at 3:00 pm at the League of Minnesota Cities building at the northwest corner of Rice Street and University Avenue in Saint Paul.  
We represent clients from the government perspective; there is no limit to the number of members; and attendees are those who show up.  We start out with announcements of CLEs and other events and move through discussions of Commissioner of Administration Advisory Opinions, relevant court cases, and data practices legislative updates.  We usually close with a general discussion of and commiseration on issues members are wrestling with in their practice. Sometimes, we have a special training on a data practices-related topic.  At our May meeting, the committee participated in an escape-room-style training game, working through concepts of records and information management.
This year the committee co-chairs are Lynn Belgea from the Minnesota Department of Health and Katie Engler from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  To sign up for notices of meetings, send an email to  We also send out committee minutes and articles of interest to government data practices lawyers.  Even if you can’t participate in person, we welcome questions for discussion by the committee and will reply with the committee’s collective wisdom!  This year’s meeting schedule is posted in the Data Practices folder of the MSBA PLS Community page.  If you have any questions, contact Lynn or Katie. 

2019 Minnesota Laws of Interest to Public Lawyers

By: Anne Sexton, Assisant Revisor, in collaboration with the attorneys and staff at the Office of the Revisor of Statutes 
In several ways, the 2019 legislative session was one for the record books.  Minnesota held the title of the only divided state legislature.  A new record for the most bills drafted in a session was set.  The governor did not exercise his veto power in full or in part.  This session staff assembled, and on multiple occasions engrossed, the largest bill on record – the house health and human services omnibus bill (H.F. 2414).  The original H.F. 2414 delete everything amendment came in at 998 pages and continued to grow as the bill traveled through the legislative process.
Despite a late-breaking global target deal on the final Sunday evening of regular session, the state’s 2019 regular session proved not long enough.  The only omnibus budget bill able to reach the finish line by constitutional adjournment, midnight of Monday, May 20th, was the higher education omnibus bill.  In the end, Minnesota had another special session and now has another state budget in the books. 

International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) Update

By: John Baker, Greene Espel PLLP 
The International Municipal Lawyers' Association has been a leading resource and advocate for local government attorneys since 1935.  IMLA services as an international clearinghouse of legal information and cooperation on municipal legal matters.  IMLA collects from and disseminates information to its membership across the United States and Canada and helps governmental officials prepare for litigation and develop new local laws.  In addition to a bi-monthly magazine, "Municipal Lawyer: the Journal of Local Government Law," IMLA publishes timely updates on new legal developments, potential risks to municipalities, and opportunities for municipal lawyers to better advise and represent their communities.
IMLA's most significant events are its annual fall conference (held in a major U.S. or Canada convention center), and a more intimate mid-year conference in Washington D.C.  This year's annual conference will take place from September 18 to 22 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The topics will include municipal finance, utilizing mobility data in transportation and infrastructure planning, ransomware attacks on municipalities and other government entities, telecommunications, local government and preemption, e-scooters, opioid litigation, First Amendment issues related to the filming of public buildings and officials, and public private partnerships in economic development, sports, and entertainment.  More information, including links for online registration, is available here.

Upcoming Public Law Section CLE's

By: Ethan Landy, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
We have a great selection of upcoming CLEs.  Watch for emails announcing registration.
The Public Law Section (PLS) hosts a number of low-cost CLEs throughout the year on topics of interest to public lawyers.  In 2019-20, the PLS plans to continue to hold most of these proposed CLE programs during the lunch hour on Friday afternoon.  New to this year’s schedule, however, is a planned half-day program in Greater Minnesota on data practices, and other potential events outside of St. Paul.
The first CLE on this year’s calendar was the half-day “Data Practices Retreat,” which took place on Friday, October 11th, at the Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes in Baxter, MN.  Data practices is always a popular topic for PLS CLEs, and this meeting allowed for a broader discussion that was useful for any public lawyer.  Thanks to all who participated and helped make this event a success. 
The next CLE is on November 15th focusing on Wellness and Meditation, continuing the conversation on stress and mental health of judges and public lawyers that took place at the PLS's 2019 Annual meeting. Register now
Other proposed CLE topics include:  
  • Religious and Political Awareness in the workplace;
  • Anatomy of an Ethics Complaint (proposed Ethics CLE Credit);
  • Fair hearings and Contested Cases at OAH; and
  • Tort MCIT Insurance.
One-hour CLEs are $10 for Public Law Section members and $25 for non-members, with lunch included.  MSBA members who are not part of the PLS can join the section for $27 ($17 for Public Attorneys) and attend their first one-hour CLE for free.
Topic suggestions for future CLEs are always welcome.  Please contact Abby Ward, Public Law Section MSBA Liaison, at to send suggestions to the PLS Council.

Anytime Recipe

By: Katherine Swenson, Greene Espel PLLP 
Servings: 9 standard muffins (can be doubled) 
Time: 30 to 40 minutes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
1/2 cup sugar
Finely grated zest from 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup plain unsweetened yogurt or sour cream
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (no need to defrost)
3 tablespoons turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar 

Heat oven to 375°F.  Line a muffin tin with 9 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray.
Melt butter in the bottom of a large bowl and whisk in sugar, zest, yogurt and egg until smooth.
Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt until fully combined, then lightly fold in flour and
berries.  Batter will be very thick, like a cookie dough. Divide between prepared muffin cups and
sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden, and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean (except for blueberry goo).  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then the rest of the way on a rack.


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