Esther Tomljanovich discusses her time on the court

Programs & Series | Midday | Topics | Politics | Types | Interviews | Call-In | Grants | Legacy Amendment Digitization (2018-2019) | Social Issue | Law |
Listen: 89047.wav

With her pending retirement, Minnesota Supreme Court justice Esther Tomljanovich discusses her time in the courts. She recollects on her time in the trial court and being a Minnesota Supreme Court justice. Tomljanovich also answers listener questions.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

I could write a sex minutes now past 11. Good morning. This is midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary Acton. Glad you could join us Minnesota state supreme court associate Justice Esther. Tum yanovitch who in 1990 became the third woman named of the state's highest court is stepping down from the Court Justice term yanovich who is 66 will officially resign at the end of August. She said yesterday in her announcement that she wants to spend some more time with her husband. Just system yanovitch has stopped by our Studios this morning to talk about her years on the court and her impressions of the Minnesota legal system, and we should invite you to join our conversation this morning. Give us a call with your questions and comments for justice Esther tomanovich to 276 thousand is our Twin City area number if you'd like to call in to 276 thousand if you're calling from outside the Twin Cities, you can reach us toll-free at 1-800 to +422-828-227-6802. 42282 a great opportunity to talk with one of Minnesota's leading jurists. Good morning Justice to me out of it and happy La day party today. Oh, yes. Have you had fun? No one has ever had as much fun on the trial court. And then on the Supreme Court is I have every day cuz it seems like a note to an outsider kind of us ombre sober type thing and you just keep your nose to the grindstone all the time the Supreme Court might seem a little more somber than the trial court when I first came there I had the same impression because I had so much fun on the trial court because every day you saw lawyers and litigants and jurors and it was just very exciting and then when I came up there I felt a little isolated, but I think we've worked over the last eight years to make it less isolating at least among the members. And we have fun in the laws fun. Did you have any idea when you were a growing up in nashwauk that you were going to end up as a judge to say nothing of one of the states, Oh, no, I didn't have any idea when I was growing up and it wasn't even nashwauk. It's north of nashwauk 12 mile know I had no idea that that would happen. And even when I went to law school there just were no women judges and there were no women law partners and women were really outside the legal profession outside the the in the inside that makes it run and no I had no idea that that's where I would wind up in Charlotte this gender Equity business or is are there still some pretty glaring gaps? We've had Supreme Court Justices and we have a lot of trial judges because we had two governors in a row that have been committed to that. We have women who are hired in Major law firms. We have law professors, but it's it's not easy for the young women. It's not an easy profession for young women who have families and children and who get pregnant and all those kinds of things that are very inconvenient for a lawyer to be pregnant. It's very inconvenient for anybody to be pregnant. But if you're trying to work 70 hours a week it's even worse. So I think that the law price practice itself is very unfriendly to women, but if if you look at the top we've done very very well. Now you suggested in your letter to Governor Carlson that it would be good if he could appoint somebody you've had a lot of trial court experience in that you suggest it would be good. If you if he could find somebody somewhere background. Why do you think that's so important? So it's just really important when we sit around our conference table and one of our judges says one of the justices says why in the world didn't the trial judge make better findings. Well, I know why the trial judge didn't make better findings because when that judge walked out into the courtroom that morning there were a hundred people there and he or she had to get through that calendar and dispose of all those matters because tomorrow morning there will be a different hundred people sitting out there and it does the pressure under which trial judge's work now is much much greater than it was when I went to the trial court 21 years ago, and it's really important for us to understand the pressures under which they work and if you have Done it you just can't understand it because if we sit there on the fourth floor and we Ponder these legal issues boy when you're at the trial court in somebody stands up and makes it makes an objection you rule. You don't go back and get a whole bunch of law books and look it up and talk to your law clerks. You ruin your rule right then and you hope you're right. And so that's the reason and for the most part real Justice is done, but you have to understand you have to understand under what circumstances are doing. No, I don't think every single one of our justices needs to be a trial court judge because all of those different experiences are so very very important. But some of us need to be and a I I hope that the governor takes it to heart. I have no reason to believe he will not he's done a Marvelous job of looking at the needs of the court and trying to fill the slots that way so I think he will. Minnesota state supreme court associate Justice Esther tomjanovich is our guests this first hour of our midday program. She announced yesterday that she'll be a stepping down from the court at the end of August and we thought it'd be great opportunity today to talk with her a little bit about the courts and here in the middle is state of Minnesota give you an opportunity to call in with your questions as well to 276 thousand is our Twin City area number to 276 thousand outside the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free. That number is 1 800 to +422-828-227-6000 or one 800-242-2828 first college from st. Paul market place. I've noticed a number of justices when they retire do it in such a way that instead of allowing the people to make a selection at the next election, which would be this November. She's done it in such a way. Has to have the governor make the appointment and I'm wondering does she say or do justices can we say your problem with election of justices? And this is why they they resign and in a way to circumvent the electoral process. Well, you may have heard that I think that a trial judge should be elected should be appointed to the court. I think it's very unlikely. That one would be elected. Like I don't think a trial judge would have time to get out and campaign for re-election. And I would be the last person in the world to say that we should not have popular elections, but they are very very difficult. It's very difficult to get the electric to understand our or to know anything about about justices because you're running at a time when a governor is running and this time we might have primaries and a whole bunch of interesting things happening. It's very very difficult to inform the electorate. They are very interested in Supreme Court Justices. Now that this fall we might have been able to get some good crowds because we had The Good The Good Fortune to have Justice Alan Page running. A marvelous marvelous judge and also a folk hero in Minnesota and people do show up for him. If you said that extra time yanovitch was going to appear in Crookston. You don't get very many people the Chief Justice and I last year drove to Duluth for a citizens for him and we got there and there were eight people including the Master of Ceremonies judge Donovan Frank or the moderator. I guess you call him. And so it's just really hard. So I deliberately did that of course during during the so that the governor could appoint because I had confidence that he would appoint somebody really good and there are flaws in our electoral system. I think yes, if we're going to stick with the election of Judges we should at least allow the the candidates to talk more openly about the about the issues that might interest voters or might allow them to make a more informed decision. You know, the problem with that is the question that I was most frequently Asked five years ago six years ago was how do you feel about the death penalty? Well how I feel about the death penalty has very little to do with how I would rule on the death penalty. The question will not be when it comes or if that is ever passed and ever comes to the Supreme Court will not be what do I think? Question will be is it or is it not constitutional and I guess I would be very very nervous about walking into a courtroom with a judge who had Express their opinion their personal opinion on whatever I had to come before the cards and and the judge is not supposed to rule on their personal opinion. And I think it would be very dangerous to let judges talk about those things. The low visibility visibility of the judicial office has given the fact you can't really talk about anything why continue with the election of Judges why not just have a system whereby all the judges are appointed and then if they truly mess up then they can be replaced. But you know, we are exploring different. We are not different citizens groups are exploring different ways to selecting and elect judges in some states. They have the retention system. I think that Often is very dangerous because you put your name on the ballot and people vote Yes or No, you're you're running against Perfection when you do that because everybody imagines if they don't know that the perfect judge would be appointed somebody that they really like him would like them a lot. So that's not a real satisfactory way either and I honestly don't know I think some of the states that have maybe longer terms and then you go back to the legislature and if you have a truly nonpartisan way of of being affirmed Again by the legislature some of those work, well I hesitate to take it away from the voters, but I don't know how to adequately informed voters so that the election really means anything to them. Rose your next go ahead place. Amazed to see the difference in how the criminal was treated here than at the other place that I'd work for most of my career. It seemed that Minnesota with more worried about the other offenders rights than the victims rights and several other victims and we've all have almost exactly the same complaint of the system that the offender had to have a whole lot more rights in this and the victim does could you address that please the defendant is presumed to be not guilty until he's convicted. He's presumed to be innocent until he's convicted. So you don't necessarily have a guilty person there. They have some constitutional rights that you simply cannot violate. I think we're proposing new rules of criminal procedure. That will be sure that Victims have have more rights rights to be informed of hearings and plea Bargains potential plea Bargains the victims have the right to stand up at sentencing and express their opinion and they usually do and it's it's a very useful. It's very useful. So I think I think the judges are becoming more and more aware that I hope they are. I know the judges that I know in the courtroom that I've been in they are but we are constrained by the fact that defendants have constitutional rights and they are presumed to be innocent until you're not dealing with a guilty person Rose the caller suggested that that we have kind of a different approach to adhere than perhaps in other states. Well, I I would hope that we certainly enforce our constitution vigorously here in Minnesota. I would hope that we are all sensitive to victims. I would be surprised if other states were more sensitive to victims then we are because we really do I at least in the rulemaking process. I know we're very concerned about it and I in the old days it wasn't so are you the judge just went in there and you plowed ahead and sentence people and you never you never saw the victim in the courtroom and now you're generally do they do show up and if it does have an impact and it's important in terms of a trial experience. One of our callers called in couldn't hang on to actually ask the question whether or not we should allow jurors to ask questions During trials idea. There is a proposal right now from a bar association committee to have jurors ask questions. I was going to experiment once with it and I decided to let some jurors ask questions and they asked the questions that I had already told the attorneys, they could not ask things that I thought were irrelevant and and were either more prejudicial or simply irrelevant. They didn't have much probative value and you hire an attorney so that they can present their case and I think it's a terrible mistake to let attorneys it asked questions. Let jurors ask questions in and change the flow of the trial in the presentation of the evidence is the potential of getting more at the truth of an issue as opposed to older the legal. Advocacy proceedings, whereby the best. Attorney will win the truth that they might want to know first is is there Insurance are they covered by insurance? And how much is it? Do they have $100,000 million dollars worth of insurance that might be a question that they frequently want to know. They want to know is this guy ever been convicted of a crime before now sometimes if that's probative it comes in more often. It does not they convicted they convicted or try this person based on the evidence on this particular crime and the fact that 10 years ago. He may have done a different kind of a crime probably doesn't have much to do with with this particular crime, but everybody wants to know that You get the sense that we have are there are there many instances where the jury clearly is out to lunch makes the wrong decision doesn't have any idea what the case was about and I had to interrupt almost day. I started making noises before you finish your sentence because I am the greatest fan in the whole state of the jury system. I I always talk to my jurors afterward because in the county is at most the time the drawers only served for one case so you can talk to him without worrying about the next case and if I went back and if they had for example of Crim sex case, whether they acquitted or whether they convicted half of the jurors men included would be in tears worrying about whether they did the right thing. In 13 years in trying hundreds and hundreds of cases. I I was just almost always satisfied with a jury now once in awhile. They they be a little stingy. I thought or sometimes they be a little generous, but in general they were right on the nose knows jurors really care. It's just a wonderful experience working with jurors are the shower is Minnesota state supreme court associate Justice Esther tomjanovich who announced yesterday that she's going to be stepping down from the state's highest court till she officially leaves the court at the end of August this so we thought that would be a good day to talk with her a little bit about her experiences on the corn about the Minnesota legal system. We invite you to join our conversation if you're in the Twin Cities, the number to call is 2276 thousand to 276 thousand outside the Twin Cities 1 800 to +422-828-227-6004. 1 800-242-2828. Talk with one of Minnesota's leading Juris associate Justice Esther tomjanovich Frank your question place to go the judge mentioned that she felt that personal opinion shouldn't enter into a judge's decision. But it seems with all the legal fights or any political fights over the appointment of Judges. Then in fact their personal opinion entered into it a lot and that for example the population of the Supreme Court being having an increased number of women. There are now probably has an impact on how the Supreme Court would make a decision. I I remember at least in the federal Supreme Court that the the Constitutional law didn't change much between Brown versus the Board of Education and Jim Crow decisions, but a different population on the Supreme Court arrived at the different constitutional out legal outcome. Yes, you're absolutely right. It makes a difference who we are and what we are to say that it does not is naive because we all have some experiences that the women have some different life experiences that make us look at the law differently. I've been a working mother and that makes a difference. I understand those kinds of things back when I got out of law school 43 years ago. I was discriminated against you didn't leave any permanent scars, but it makes me understand those cases that we have with discrimination. And if it didn't matter it wouldn't matter who the heck was appointed to the Supreme Court when I first came to the court or when I first came to the state to work for the court 1957, you couldn't tell the Supreme Court Justices 1/4 from another they were all old white guys with similar backgrounds similar experiences. They weren't as old as I am now, but they were all old old guys. And I I know that they excuse me. I know they thought alike they looked alike and I think they thought alike and there wasn't I don't think there was an examination of all of the issues in all of the factors. That should go into things. So yes indeed Women Make a Difference black men like we have on the on the Supreme Court make a difference. We need all of those experiences. We need the we need the experiences of the man because they've had some experiences I can never have but I've had some that they can't share either. And so those things they do impact on our decisions and it's naive to think they do not Governor essentially make sure that the makeup of the court in terms of gender and race approximately the makeup of the population or what what Kind of a standard. Should I bring to making these appointments and take that into account these different experiences a in a seven-member court is probably hard to reflect accurately the population. You probably can't do it unless you always have a 3/4 split on the court gender-wise you wouldn't and we may not and it probably isn't necessary. But I think they should take into account experiences and background race. Yes. I think all of those things go into the mix and I'm sure they they do go into the mix when the governor sit down to talk about it in terms of bringing a personal experience to the law that doesn't necessarily contradict the notion of interpreting the law in a adjectives fashion. I don't think it does. I don't think it does and I think there is some opinions that are different because there are women there who have a different experience but I I don't think that they are that we've interpreted the Constitution differently or even the president but if the facts of this case look different because of our experiences question for justice coming out of it I am I phone is dying but a cell phone but I just wanted to say that I clerked for Jess is coming out of it for 3 years and that she just gave such a sense of fairness to everyone and really respected everyone in the courtroom. It's been a great role model to me. I'm an administrative law judge now and just really admire her is so wonderful to hear from you Mary Kay. Thanks for calling we're going to do I take some more callers in just a minute here. We're going to take a break or guess this hour Minnesota state supreme court associate Justice Esther. Tum, yanovitch who is stepping down from the court at the end of August that announcement. Was made yesterday. We thought it'd be a great opportunity today to talk with her a little bit about her experiences on the cart about the Minnesota legal system and give you an opportunity to get your questions in as well to 276 thousand years are Twin City area number to 276 Thousand Oaks on the Twin Cities 1 800 to +422-828-227-6004. 1 802-4228 or next week on Minnesota Public Radio Beyond Affliction the disability history project. Remember that America if given an opportunity the physically impaired make outstanding records in business after him during the day and Talk of the Nation for series of documentaries and call in on the attitudes and experiences that have shaped the lives of people with disabilities the series begins Monday on Minnesota Public Radio k n o w FM 91.1 in the Twin Cities. Also an invitation to join us over the noon hour today the 2nd or of our midday program. We're going to be taking a closer. Look at those school test scores that were released yesterday. The basic skills test scores are out and the whale parents and students and teachers and administrators or everybody's all atwitter and we'll try to figure out exactly what those test scores mean. And what seems to be working in terms of helping kids passed the test what maybe isn't working all that well where we're headed in the future and we hope you will be able to join us that's coming up over the noon hour today NPR's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blend in Foundation committed to strengthening rural communities through the community leadership program weather forecast calls for some shower and thunder showers in Western Minnesota, and it's going to Cloud up in eastern Minnesota this afternoon as well as mid-fifties in the Northwest mid-70s in the Southeast by tomorrow as we begin the weekend. There's at least a chance for some rain in Southern Minnesota dry though on Sunday Twin Cities partly cloudy with a high in the low 70s chance for rain in the cities tonight and a 40% chance for some showers tomorrow morning as well right now around the area Duluth has a sunny Sky 72 Houghton partly cloudy 69 Fargo partly cloudy 59 Sioux Falls with a partly cloudy Sky 65 St. Cloud sunny and 74 Rochester sunny in 67. The Twin City temperature is seventy-two and skies are sunny or with Minnesota Supreme Court associate Justice Esther tomjanovich as she comes to the end of a long distinguished career on the bench. She has announced that she's going to be leaving the Supreme Court at the end of August. She has served on the Supreme Court since 1990 and see your name to The District Court Way Back in 77 worth. Denzel we hope you'll give us a call again lady Twin City area number is 227-6002 276 thousand outside the Twin Cities one 802-422-8282 need to talk about the Minnesota legal system, Jacob your next United States for a long time and I'm from a third world country have a background check what country but I realize and I get so frustrated that the criminal system here, especially I will talk about Minnesota cuz I stay dilated. It seems so linear and every time you hear that all these problems with police catching the criminals and then when they lock the next day that criminalize out doing the same thing. And you pretended to the death penalty as I guess I don't I can't figure out why that's a definite is not it's not in this state. I hear people saying that it doesn't deter and I'm crying but I don't agree with that. I think that once that is consequence to watch you. Do you think twice before you do something? I don't know which of you have been to a Singapore are yet when that couple of times last year and I mean it's unbelievable how spic and span. Places as well as the crime very very low crime because it don't mess with people who go around killing people get a response. First of all just on the on the issue of the death penalty state of matter. It's not the Supreme Court and we don't have it. We haven't had it since They strangle somebody with rope I think about 19:7 rather than hung him and the legislature the people they should talk to if they want to death penalty in Minnesota. What about the larger issue? And you hear this criticism A Lot G. We've got some tough laws for this that and the other crying but the judges are not imposing Tough Enough sentences. They're letting people off virtually scott-free and do the same thing. I don't think that's true. I know it's it said but it's not true. And for the most part we rubbed a few months ago of Judges who were departing from the guidelines. Well in about 99% of those cases those were plea agreements that County attorneys agreed to and requested if The judges for the most part do not impose sentences without the consent or without the agreement of the County Attorney. So most of those were plea agreements I suppose we could try all the cases about 95% of the cases are resolved by plea agreement and I don't think we have enough courtrooms in enough judges to to try all the cases but I think blaming the carts and blaming the the judges for the crime problem is like blaming the person who cleans up on the after the puppy who peddles on the floor for the mess on the floor the judge didn't create it. We are way at the end of the system way at the end all of the problems have of Society come to head there and that's where we see them we deal with with the failures of the families the failure the church the failure of the community with under Did mental illness and and then we try to do something at that point, but it's a little late at that time to to solve the crime problem. You think the sentencing guidelines system has worked well, or does it take too much discretion away from the trial judge? Play too much a I was on the trial court when they came into effect. And now I'm on the sentencing guidelines commission and people really hollered when they came in, but they did not weak in the first place. They only affect the people who you're going to send to prison and that's only about 10% of those criminals because most people do not go to prison who commit crimes and it's because they're not they're not of sufficient gravity. They go to County Jail when you hear they don't go to prison that doesn't mean they don't have punishment because they might go to jail for 30 days or 90 days or up to a year, but a judge can depart for good reasons and they do all the time. They're probably probably a lot more up or departures then downward departures without consent. But it makes the judge sit down and tell yourself why you've departed you can always depart for certain legal reasons, but I thought it made me say to myself now. Is it just that I don't like this guy or is it because his crime is so different from the standard that it merits it merits a departure. So what the judge has to has to answer that question to themselves, but you can always depart for a legally acceptable reason that we can hear a lot now that about the courts and they should be focusing more on so-called livability crimes people who are breaking windows and spraying graffiti and prostitution arrest and so on is that a good strategy for addressing a people's concern about crime? Done at the crime the crime rates have gone down surprisingly. I think what we need to focus on more though is the family in the community rather than focusing on the courts courts are too late to focus on ION crime. The damage is done. The damage is done to society. The damage is done to the defendant at that point. So I think we need to focus on the family is Richard your question Place political traditions and even the cultural Customs are different. How did that help or hinder you during your serious as Supreme Court Judge off the lot will first of all I had the great Good Fortune of having a governor Rudy perpich appoint me twice to the trial card and then to the Supreme Court in one Dementors was Peter Popovich who was also a fellow Iron Ranger. I didn't know either of them they are but you know, the names are similar in and there is always a bond there, but I think it helped me because I didn't take myself very seriously. I took my job. I took the law very very seriously, but I think it helped me to keep perspective of who I was and where I came from. So I I think the Iron Range background serve me very very well in general people are too deferential to our judges not deferential enough about write how would you the general public isn't differential but you could if if you didn't you could get very isolated as a Supreme Court judge and you could begin to believe that you're as important as the people up in that judicial Center let you think you are and when I first came to the I am judge forsberg who was our chief judge than in the district. He said just don't get the idea that because the lawyers laugh at your jokes and because they let you interrupt them that you're smarter than them or that you're funny because they let you do that cuz you're a judge and that's very true. I mean lawyers will defer to you and yeah, you could get you could get to thinking you're really you're a great comedian because everybody laughs at your jokes, you have some people who know you really well and feel comfortable in telling you that maybe you shouldn't have done what you did that time. So Yeah, I'd like to see some link between the the judges and what's happening on the street. I've lived in the South Minneapolis for 20 years and the whole neighborhood's just been trashed same people are out over and over again, the judge denies it and says that we need focus on the family. I take focus on the people on the street corner that they have these long records and they just remove them. Sorry. What what's going on now? It's obviously not working. Obviously not working. Your performance has been pathetic. You've got at the city. That's all I have. I guess that's just a statement not a question. So I don't have any response. Let me ask you this though. We have had. Judges on this program we've had the prosecutor's defense attorneys police officers. We've heard from people who live in areas that are high crime areas. Everybody seems to point fingers at everybody else and say well I we're doing our job, of course, but what what is the average citizen to make of this? I think the judges should take the lead in some of these things a few years ago when we dedicated our building it judge Riley amundsen and I were shares of of the committee to celebrate or celebration and we were going to have a man come in and speak on restoring community and we had these grandiose plans of having Educators there and religious people and you know law enforcement people that it kind of people community leaders. And then you know with with the paranoia that has come from years of being public servants. We that old people will criticize us for spending our money. This isn't talking about how to fill out the departure report sir. And do do our job in the courtroom. So maybe we shouldn't do that and we didn't and it was a mistake because I think the courts should take the lead in those kinds of things somebody has to and I I think that we should have it. So no, I don't I don't point fingers. I think that prosecutors and defense attorneys in police officers are all doing doing a wonderful job. I think we have to get together though and say how can we solve this problem? Because it is intolerable to live in some of those neighborhoods hearing it in an area in South Minneapolis to the other day and I thought how awful I when I got on my car. Are people with their little kids having two who had to live there people who had to live there with their little kids in I was uncomfortable parking there and that isn't intolerable and we do have to clean those things that you were one of those real leaders in terms of trying to get the card out of Courts. Get them out of get the get the Supreme Court Out Among the people a little bit. Why do you think that was important. I think it's real important to demystify what we do not not a lack of dignity but the lack of mystery and I we have in the past about four years or maybe it's five years, even we've we've done out State and we've we've moved into a having school kids come to this classes and last weekend or last month in Austin. We had 1300 High School. There who had a chance to talk to us and get to know us and we had a chance. You don't really have a chance that when you do that to see what goes on in the community because you have a dinner the night before and everybody's all dressed up real nice and you have a real good dinner in that that certainly doesn't put you in touch with the problems in the community, but just being out there and hearing people like we've heard today people with their concerns that we don't hear in the courtrooms and we don't especially don't here at the Supreme Court. Nobody comes up and says the justice system is done a pathetic job when they come up there and that's important for us to hear. We need to know that people are thinking that I don't happen to agree. But I think it's important to it to hear that. I guess this hour is Supreme Court associate Justice Esther tomjanovich who is a leading the court at the end of August great opportunity to get your questions and comments and we don't have a lot of time left, but We would like to try to get your question on Twin Cities to 276 thousand outside the Twin Cities one. 800-242-2828 Mary. I've been listening and I just have to agree with the previous caller who was just frustrated with with leniency. I I don't know what the answer is but it it seems to me that that the penalties the practices really very largely determine the amount of crime that we have and I guess I think that in general are first-time offense. Can be treated somewhat leniently and and it should be made clear to that person what the next offense penalty will be and that next offense penalty must be the second time has got to be a deterrent and and I don't know who decides all these things. I know the judges don't I guess legislature does but I mean you talk to anybody I talk to on this issue says the same thing they just let him out the next day. I mean, I know it's not that simple but after reading that article about auto theft in Minneapolis, I just about I mean, I think it said that they don't do time until 5 until 5 conviction pictures. I don't know if that's true. I don't think that's true at all doing time and doing prison time or two entirely different things going to jail for a short. Of time. And then going to prison when they say that the guidelines don't call for for prison time until the 5th when you would probably be in jail, or at least. Prison possibly even in jail on a violation of the first one because you'd say that I'll give you a 30 days or 90 days in jail and a condition is that you remain law-abiding and when you didn't the second time, so what in general though judge, you think we've been too concerned about rehabilitating people too worried about building too many prisons have we put so much emphasis on that part of the system that we really have lost sight of the value of punishment get these people off the street. No, I don't think so. I don't think we can afford to lock everybody up for as long as there's a great deterrent to the first time. You see a kid who had a juvenile court record. Nothing that ever happened to him when he comes up to your card and you say to him you're an adult now and you go right downstairs right now to the county jail and you're there for 30 days or 60 days or 90 days you off and didn't see that kid again, and I don't think he needed six months. I don't think you needed a year, but I think that short shot of jail time is very important. But I think giving some of these guys five years or six years for what it is kind of a minor offense is probably A waste of time. Your question please officer is not enforcing the decision of the Court. What person has with what we're going to do like a freak example about a very short one individual was caught red-handed the probation officer that it is is not doing anything to for restitution. And then the individual bought a new car. I was told to follow up with didn't have to advertise. It would just talk to the to the supervisor, I guess because I think that's a very unusual thing. I said if it happened I do that's really unusual one more call around here before I run out of time and quick question. Yes quick question place the difference in the traditional system between Singapore and the United States. I don't know much about the judicial system in in Singapore, so I don't think I could. To litigious do we do we have too many lawsuits in this country too many people suing each other over fairly frivolous things. Yes. Yes, there are too many not it. It's not as bad as the newspapers would lead you to believe though the Wall Street Journal searches the entire country every day and they find one really nutty opinion or really naughty decision and they don't be reminded in Minnesota alone is 250 trial judges sitting in those courtrooms doing Justice day in and day out trying mundane things for the most part doing Justice. And so yeah, it's the crazy lawsuit that hits the beach. It's the newspaper at is There are too many of those but good trial judge's order directed verdict to know or not directed release. They order summary judgment in those they throw those out there. Do you have enough power to do that? So if it actually gets as far as a trial at least the judge thinks it's a it's you don't want to get to it. Yes. That's right. That's right, Minnesota Supreme Court likely to become more visible. You think more political if he will in the future. I hope not. I hope not more political. I hope I hope more visible. I hope they're out there so that people know what the code is doing, but I hope they don't get more partisan that would be just a tragic thing to happen to her judicial system. I think to the independent Judiciary do you think it would be helpful if when the next asteroid coming out of its goes up to Duluth for a for a little hearing type thing big crowds would turn out because the judges are superstars. Does that make our system better? Nope, it sure wouldn't it might be real exciting and flattering if a big crowd showed up for the Superstar, but no it wouldn't make a justice system. Any better. Finally. I have to ask you and you can tell the truth. Now since of course, you're you're stepping down when you folks, you know, what decision is written and then there's a lot of times there's a descent sometimes of Fairly sharply written consent. Are there hard feelings about that kind of thing or is it no not at all really know there never are and we even kind of laugh sometimes about the sharply written two cents a end. We try not to be personally sharp, but no there's never any hard feelings. This is this is a wonderful Court where we discuss things in this agree and disagree vigorously, but never at never get angry with each other so much for coming in so many years of service. Thank you for inviting me. It was a real pleasure to be here Supreme Court associate Justice Esther tomjanovich who was named the quarterback in 1990. She is stepping down from the court at the end of August so she can spend some time with her husband do a little traveling and grade of her to stop by today. Also thanks to all of you have been listening this our especially those of you who called in or try to Call in with your questions and comments would appreciate it. This is midday on Minnesota Public Radio and will continue in just a moment. I'm Ray Suarez. What if you could eat up with?


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>