The retirement of Ramsey County District Court Judge M. Michael Monahan after 19 years on the bench has opened the door for nine candidates who want to replace him.
The nine will be pared down to two finalists in a primary on August 10, and those two will go on to the general election in November.
The eventual winner will join 28 other judges, four referees and two magistrates who represent Minnesota’s 2nd Judicial District from courts in St. Paul and Maplewood..
The candidates include one woman, no minorities, and four of the candidates in the nonpartisan race are under 40 years of age. All live in St. Paul.
Most are attorneys in private practice, but there’s also a revenue examiner for the state, one prosecuting attorney, the head of Washington County’s Legal Assistance and a municipal attorney.
With 28 years of legal experience, Gloria Bogen has served as executive director for Legal Assistance of Washington County, a nonprofit that serves low-income clients in civil cases.
Bogen has served on St. Paul’s Board of Zoning Appeals for 16 years, and served as co-chair on the committee that recommended hiring St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington.
Her endorsements include St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul DFL legislators including Sandy Pappas, Chuck Wiger, Carlos Mariani and Nora Slawik, and Ramsey County Commissioners Rafael Ortega and Victoria Reinhardt.
She is a 1982 William Mitchell College of Law graduate and a Minnesota, Washington County, Ramsey County and 19th District Bar Association member.
A 22-year Minnesota Bar member, John G. Dillon is a private practice attorney with past experience as a municipal prosecutor.
He is a courtroom instructor at the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell College of Law on misdemeanors and served as union steward for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees while working as a psychiatric assistant at the University of Minnesota Hospital.
His endorsements come from unions, including the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council and Teamsters Local 120.
He received his legal degree from William Mitchell in 1988 and is licensed with the Minnesota and Ramsey County bar associations.
Greg M. Gaffaney (No Web site)
For 24 years out of his 33-year career as an attorney, Greg M. Gaffaney has worked for the state Department of Revenue as a revenue examiner.
Gaffaney graduated from Hamline Law School in 1977 and worked as a private practice attorney in Alexandria in his early career.
His campaign has sought no endorsements, spent less than $100 and is not affiliated with a political party, he said.
Gaffaney advocates modernizing the court system and adding a special veterans court.
In Mark Ireland’s 10-year legal career, he has worked as assistant attorney general for then-Attorney General Mike Hatch, founded the Foreclosure Relief Law Project and now serves as special counsel to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, prosecuting mortgage fraud racketeering schemes.
His endorsements include Freeman, Ramsey County DFL legislators including Mindy Greiling, Alice Hausman and Steve Simon, St. Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry and Council member Russ Stark.
Ireland is still the supervising attorney for the Foreclosure Relief Law Project and an adjunct professor of law at Hamline University.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2000 and serves on the board for Hamline Midway Elders.
With more than 16 years of legal experience, Stephen C. Kelly has worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney and is now in private practice.
He sought no endorsements and holds no political affiliation, is president of the St. Thomas Academy Alumni Association and graduated from William Mitchell in 1993.
Kelly has volunteered in mock trial, moot court and other youth-oriented legal educational activities.
He specializes in employment, property and municipal law in his current practice.
Ed Matthews’ seven-year legal career has taken place in the private practice world, defending manufacturers and pharaceutical companies in products liability and other lawsuits..
Before that, he was a Certified Public Accountant and served as executive editor of the William Mitchell College of Law Review, where he graduated in 2003.
He served as a Minnesota Supreme Court law clerk and is endorsed by former Supreme Court Justices Russel A. Anderson, Esther Tomljanovich, Edward C. Stringer and Sam Hanson, and former U.S. Attorneys David Lillehaug and Thomas Heffelfinger.
Matthews ran against U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum as a Republican in 2008, and says streamlining the court process is his top goal.
Trevor Oliver’s 10-year legal career has seen him work as a clerk in the Dakota County Attorney’s office, a captain in the U.S. Army JAG Corps, and currently in private practice representing Gem Lake and Little Canada as their city attorney.
Supporters include Ramsey County DFL legislators Sheldon Johnson and Tim Mahoney, Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, Maplewood Mayor Will Rossbach, Little Canada Mayor Bill Blesener and Gem Lake Mayor Bob Uzpen.
Oliver graduated in 2000 from the University of Minnesota Law School, previously represented Maplewood as their municipal prosecutor, and ran a legal assistance office from a military base near Atlanta while in the Army.
He said his variety of duties as muncipal attorney and prosecutor make him uniquely qualified to be judge among the other candidates.
In 15 years of legal practice, Tom Plunkett has been a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer and served as a JAG lawyer in the Army and Minnesota Army Reserve and National Guard.
He graduated from William Mitchell in 1995, and has handled roughly 100 courtroom trials. He serves on the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, and defends people at the state and federal level.
Plunkett was a military pilot and civilian emergency medical pilot. He serves on the board of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and is a member of the Minnesota and Ramsey County bar associations.
He advocates developing a veterans court and focusing more resources on abuse victims.
Matthew Lawson Thornton has more than 10 years legal experience as a solo practitioner in civil, family and criminal law. He is a qualified arbitrator on no-fault insurance disputes.
He graduated in 1999 from Hamline University Law School and has tried cases in state and federal court.
Thornton emphasizes impartiality and a nonpartisan approach to the law, and sought no endorsements and raised no money for the race,
He said his experience in the courtroom and as an arbitrator has taught him fiscal responsibility, efficiency and punctuality, traits he would bring to the district court if elected judge.