Judge candidate: John Steven LindAs a lawyer who has practiced up the shore since 1987, I have worked closely with most of the individuals in the court administrator’s offices, prosecution offices and law enforcement offices.
1 Duluth lawyer, age 53, born in Minnesota. Happily married in a canoe (with lovely Diane) by then “Range Judge” Donovan Frank. Licensed to practice law in Minnesota since 1985. Attended college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and law school in the Seattle area before returning to Minnesota.
2 As a lawyer who has practiced up the shore since 1987, I have worked closely with most of the individuals in the court administrator’s offices, prosecution offices and law enforcement offices.
When Judge Sandvik decided to retire from his position, numerous individuals on the North Shore approached me to ask me to run for this judicial office. I was also inspired by how unique, and special, the legal system is in the Lake/Cook County area. (I practice law in many other parts of the State of Minnesota including in Federal Court). I feel I would be a judge who would continue to foster the unique legal system up the North Shore.
3 One of the greatest inspirations in my legal career has been the short life of attorney and good friend Douglas P. Merritt. In 1994 Douglas Merritt ran for the judicial election and won. Sadly, he passed away before he was even sworn in as a judge. His inspiration has not departed from my life even after 16 years. Also, as a courtroom lawyer, I am always inspired by how the legal system helps many individuals completely change their lives and become a positive part of our community.
4 As a lawyer who has practiced for 25 years, I have faced countless ethical dilemmas on almost a daily basis. The most common dilemmas are to always state the truth even if it hurts your case. To always turn over required evidence even if it hurts your case. To always listen to clients, without judgment, as innocent people are many times caught up in the legal system.
5 I believe, that I am able to deal with difficult clients, legal situations, attorneys and others in the legal system by simply listening to what people have to say before making a judgment. To make sure that I have researched all of the facts of any case and to speak to the court, clients, other attorneys with the complete truth of what is happening in a specific case.
6 As a lawyer who has practiced in both State and Federal Court for the past 25 years, I have been involved in many high profile cases. I believe I have handled those cases with as much dignity and patience as possible, given the added stress that comes with any high profile case. In all of the high profile cases I have handled, I have not had any complaints about my work ethic or demeanor. Therefore, I believe my legal work history should let the voters know that I am a very patient, thoughtful and hard working attorney who would continue that approach on the bench in a courtroom.
7 When a former client, or a friend or relative of a former client, either approaches me on the street, or sends a thank-you note, to personally inform me how my legal work positively changed their lives.
8 In my 25 years of legal practice, I believe that the only area of law I have not practiced is in federal bankruptcy. I have done jury trials in every courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District. I have been involved in countless family law cases and civil litigation. Unlike some of the other candidates, I have also appeared and argued cases in front of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the Minnesota Supreme Court in St. Paul. Also, I have practiced in Federal Court in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. I am also licensed in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. I can inform the voters that often there is no more complex litigation than that you encounter in Federal Court. I believe my vast legal experience separates me from the other fine candidates in this race.
9 As a courtroom lawyer who has appeared in front of dozens of judges in both State and Federal Court, I do not believe I have experienced a judge legislating from the bench. Obviously, I have disagreed with judges on what the actual rule of law is in a case. I believe it is healthy in our democracy to have reasonable disagreements about the law. The only judicial philosophy I keep in the back of my mind is borrowed from my late attorney friend, Douglas P. Merritt, that everyone who comes into a courtroom should receive “justice with dignity.”
10 The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission provides yearly updates on what criteria can and should used in all felony sentences. I attend many seminars to make sure I know what criteria should or should not be used in all felony cases. In cases involving misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors there are not formal sentencing guidelines. Therefore, the criteria to be used by a judge should be one of being impartial, but fair to all parties in the courtroom.
11 Various Minnesota statutes and Supreme Court Appellate case law describe factors for judges to consider regarding bail amounts for each defendant. The general rule is that judges have a lot of discretion to set bail in a case unless the legislature has dictated bail amounts in a specific statute i.e. domestic abuse or DUI cases. The two primary considerations for bail, generally under the law, are whether a person will return to court as ordered or whether that person will be a public safety threat in the community. I believe the court has to ask thorough questions of all defendants before setting a proper bail. Also, the court can order the probation department to prepare a formal written bail study.
12 In the Sixth Judicial District, which includes Cook, Lake, St. Louis and Carlton counties, one obstacle is always the issue of the amount of distance people have to travel to court. I believe the court has to be sympathetic to geographical problems, especially in the winter, to make sure all parties can get to court and be heard. Another obstacle in the court system is that in this judicial district, there are often clients with files in multiple counties in the district. Any attempt to consolidate files to be heard in one courtroom would help to create more efficiency and even eliminate bench warrants often issued because people are supposed to be in different courts on the same day. I believe there are other processes that the judicial branch can take to help with the budget constraints, but that should not include eliminating due process for the citizens.
13 I believe the judicial system can improve in how cases are heard in multiple courtrooms around our four-county judicial district to improve judicial efficiency.
14 I believe the citizens of Lake and Cook counties should never have their courthouse taken under any budget cuts. I believe the citizens of Lake and Cook counties already have many obstacles to make it to their two courthouses given the geographical distance from many parts of the counties to the courthouses. I do not support closing any courthouse on the North Shore.
15 I believe, judges should take public opportunities to discuss the court system with various groups as long as it does not involve any litigants that are before the court. Given the smaller population and the unique group of people in the Lake and Cook County area, that public understanding could be enhanced with a court newsletter or even a short court radio program.
16 For the last three years, I have been assigned as a public defender to the Lake and Cook County courthouses. I can proudly tell the voters of the two counties that I listen to music on a non-stop basis. I listen to a variety of music, but I am fortunate enough, given the length of my drives, to often listen to music uninterrupted from the beginning to the end. I often feel I get to hear new and old music like I have not heard it in the past. I also listen to WTIP radio on every trip. I am so devoted to your radio station that I stream it to my computer in Duluth.
17 My favorite feature about Lake County is that it sits so beautifully between the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Lake Superior with beauty in every direction. I can also say the people up the North Shore never cease to amaze me with their unique and creative ways of seeing the natural world around their lives.
18 Most people do not know that I was married in a canoe in Mudro Lake in the Boundary Waters Sept. 1, 1993, on a beautiful fall day. My wife and I were able to have a canoeing honeymoon for 10 days. Some people just think I am a lawyer in Duluth. We have owned a cabin on Gegoka Lake near Isabella since 1997. We spend much of our vacation time with friends and family right here in Lake and Cook County. My wife and I have hiked almost the entire Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth to just north of Grand Marais. As a courtroom trial lawyer, most people do not know that I practice yoga almost every morning to help prepare to deal with the hard concept of justice for all. Few people know I am the only active union member in the judicial race. I have been the Teamsters Union Steward for the State Public Defenders in our legal district for 10 years. Finally, I most proudly proclaim that I am the only judicial candidate that gives all his campaign donations to charity. I would be honored if you voted for me in the primary Aug. 10.