Last week, I took a look at the political leanings of the five Minnesota Supreme Court Justices who will decide Republican Norm Coleman’s likely appeal. Of one of the five Justices, Justice Christopher J. Dietzen, I suggested that he “has the clearest partisan background” of any of the Justices, pointing to facts including Dietzen serving as a campaign lawyer on Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2002 campaign. Of Dietzen’s service on Republican Pawlenty’s campaign, I sarcastically noted:
So, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s campaign lawyer is one of the five judges that will decide Republican Norm Coleman’s appeal. Nothing wrong with that.
Clearly, one of the Justices being active in Republican politics is sketchy, but I didn’t go so far as to call for Justice Dietzen to recuse himself from any further cases before the state Supreme Court involving Norm Coleman and the Senate seat. Until now.
DownWithTyranny! took my analysis a little further and found out that Justice Dietzen is himself a two-time Norm Coleman donor! A simple search on OpenSecrets.org finds that Justice Dietzen has given to a number of Republican committees and candidates, including:
Contributor Occupation Date Amount Recipient
Chris Dietzen Larkin Hoffman 12/3/01 $250 Coleman, Norm (R)
Chris Dietzen Larkin Hoffman 1/21/04 $250 Coleman, Norm (R)
FYI, Larkin Hoffman is one of the law firms that Dietzen worked at before becoming a judge.
Remember that two of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s seven Justices recused themselves from hearing Coleman’s appeal to the state Supreme Court because they served on the state Canvassing Board. Those two Justices wanted to avoid the conflict of having served on the Canvassing Board and then serving on the Court that will hear an appeal of, in part, the Canvassing Board’s actions and decisions.
Well, one of the remaining Justices that will decide Norm Coleman’s electoral fate is a two-time Norm Coleman donor! Heck, one of the two contributions occurred in the six years leading up to Coleman’s 2008 re-election bid – in other words, it was put toward this very election whose result Coleman is preparing to appeal. This is a crystal clear conflict of interest. Justice Dietzen should recuse himself from any Coleman appeals to the state Supreme Court in order to prevent the (rather obvious) appearance of bias. If you feel the same way, you should let Justice Dietzen know by contacting his office at (651) 297-7650, and – very respectfully – urging Justice Dietzen to recuse himself in order to avoid a clear conflict of interest and the appearance of bias by having a previous Norm Coleman donor rule on Norm Coleman’s electoral fate.