A look back at 2018 in the law.

 
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Byline: Barbara L. Jones

January

Ramsey County District Court Judge Tony Atwal is arrested for DUI, his second. He pleads guilty the next day, but loses his bid for re-election in November.

The Supreme Court hears a lawsuit by State Auditor Rebecca Otto alleging that a 2015 law granting privatization audit provisions is unconstitutional. The court upholds the law after more than $300,000 was spent on the lawsuit. U.S. Senator Al Franken resigns and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith is appointed to fill his seat. Senate President Michelle Fischbach declines to assume the duties of lieutenant governor, resulting in a lawsuit that ultimately failed but cost $147,000 in legal fees. Fischbach resigned after the 2017 legislative session ended and ran for lieutenant governor on the ticket with Tim Pawlenty. They lost in the primary.

A state Commission on Juvenile Sentencing for Heinous Crimes Report was issued, in response to Miller v. Alabama, where the U.S. Supreme Court said that life sentences without parole for juveniles violates the 8th Amendment in most cases. The commission ultimately identified two options for the Legislature to bring the Heinous Crimes Act into conformity with the United States Constitution but the Legislature takes no action. The Minnesota court declines to apply Miller to Brian Flowers, who had been sentenced to two consecutive life terms for killing two people.

February

The U.S. Senate confirms Judge David Stras to the 8th Circuit. Gov. Mark Dayton later appoints Justice Paul Thissen to Stras's former seat on the Supreme Court. Thissen reveals that he prefers the Rolling Stones to the Beatles.

March

Judge Ann Montgomery approves settlement of a housing discrimination suit against the owners of the Crossroads at Penn, now known as Concierge Apartments, for $650,000 and equitable relief. The settlement is thought to be the largest of its kind in the nation.

The judicial branch issues its 2017 report that says that it spent 2017 "re-engineering" the way its 10 district courthouses work, consolidating and streamlining some tasks while aiming to improve service to the public.

The court hears proposed changes to Rule 10 of the General Rules of Practice for District Courts requiring the courts to recognize and enforce an order of judgment of a tribal court unless a party opposing enforcement makes a case against it. The amendment becomes effective September 1.

April

Reports say the legal bills over the separation of powers...

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