Changing judicial system

The Minnesota judicial system will combat the challenges of a $6 billion
state budget deficit by adapting its processes and capitalizing on new
technology, according to Minnesota Supreme Court Justice G. Barry
Anderson.


Luke Reiter
luke.reiter@ecm-inc.com

The Minnesota judicial system will combat the challenges of a $6 billion state budget deficit by adapting its processes and capitalizing on new technology, according to Minnesota Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson.

Anderson, who was the guest speaker at the Cambridge-Isanti Rotary Club meeting at First Baptist Church in Cambridge on Friday, Jan. 7, explained to club members why he sees innovation as the key to surviving financial uncertainty in government. 

Pictured: Local attorneys Clark Joslin and Trent Pepper chat with Minnesota Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson at the Cambridge-Isanti Rotary Club meeting on Friday. (Photo by Luke Reiter )

Anderson gave the example of the changing way in which speeding tickets are processed in this state. Under the traditional system, an offender would turn in the citation and the fine to a court clerk, who would process the fine and remove the citation from the active list.

Now those tickets—which Anderson said exceed 2 million per year statewide—are increasingly being sent to one location in Willmar to a centralized payment processing hub.

And although local law enforcement will continue to hand out paper tickets for the time being, officers now will often file the citations electronically and the data will be stored in a server rather than a physical records department.

Anderson said the change is not an effort to trim staff, since Minnesota courts have already shed around 250 jobs in recent years, but rather an effort to use the lean staff more efficiently.

“If we don’t innovate—if we don’t change the way we do some things—then we’re not going to be able to do the work we’re required to do under the Minnesota constitution,” Anderson said.

Anderson said while such steps may not be revolutionary, they have placed the courts at the forefront in the evolving landscape of government services.

Anderson pointed to an experimental system in Hennepin County in which several law firms have volunteered to submit information like pleadings to the court electronically.

He also said there’s serious consideration being paid to doing away with printed copies of court decisions and simply e-mailing an attachment or link to the people involved in a case—a move that could save the state $30,000 per year in paper and postage at the appellate court level alone.

Anderson, a 1979 graduate of the University of Minnesota law school, attained the rank of partner at a Hutchinson firm before becoming a member of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 1998. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed Anderson to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2004.

Trent Pepper, an attorney with Lindberg & McKinnis in Cambridge who spent a year working as a law clerk for Anderson, described him as “a wonderful boss and mentor.”

“I think he has a role as an ambassador for the judiciary,” Pepper said. “He’s very down to earth and engaging.”  

Anderson, while working as attorney in Hutchinson, served two terms as president of the local Rotary club and took the opportunity to share his appreciation for Rotary with Cambridge members.

“I’m grateful for this organization,” he said. I’m grateful for folks like you who take time from your busy day to be part of this organization.”

up arrow