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Pawlenty names Appeals Court judges

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ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty named three new Minnesota Appeals Court judges Tuesday, including a former co-worker and a Duluth attorney.

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Louise Dovre Bjorkman, who was raised in Moorhead, worked with Pawlenty at Rider Bennett Egan and Arundel law firm in the 1990s. She is a former Ramsey County judge.

Larry Stauber Jr. is an attorney in his hometown of Duluth.

Michelle A Larkin, a St. Paul attorney, also is a former Ramsey County judge and, like Pawlenty, a University of Minnesota law school graduate.

The three will be among 19 Appeals Court judges. Eleven of them are named from anywhere in the state, with another eight appointed -- one each -- from the state's congressional districts.

In making his announcement Tuesday, Pawlenty said he and Bjorkman never worked together while at the same law firm, but they did know each other.

Bjorkman fills an at-large Appeals Court vacancy that will occur on Sept. 5 when Judge Bruce D. Willis retires.

She was born in Minneapolis, raised in Moorhead and lives in Roseville with her husband, John, and daughter, Erika.

Bjorkman, 48, is a partner of the Larson King law firm of St. Paul, where she has been since 2005. From 1998 to 2005 she was a Ramsey County judge.

She is daughter of retired Concordia College President Paul Dovre and his wife, Mardy.

Bjorkman said she didn't find out about the appointment until Monday night, and she is thrilled for the opportunity.

"I am honored and humbled by the confidence that Gov. Pawlenty has placed in me," Bjorkman said. "I will strive to serve the people of Minnesota as an appellate court judge to the very best of my ability."

Bjorkman is an attorney and partner in the St. Paul law firm of Larson King, a position she has held since 2005.

"The Court of Appeals is just a wonderful hard-working court that really sets a standard," she said. "I am really pleased to be joining and look forward to supporting that important work the court has done."

"Louise has an extensive background practicing appellate law and is highly respected by appellate lawyers for her advocacy in this area," Pawlenty said. "In addition, she has seven years of experience on the district court bench in Ramsey County in a wide variety of areas, which will be of great benefit to her as a Court of Appeals judge."

Bjorkman said her daughter asked about wearing a hockey jersey to Tuesday's announcement, knowing Pawlenty's love of the sport. However, in the end she opted not to.

Stauber is senior attorney and managing partner of the Duluth Stauber and Lien law firm.

He has been at the firm since 1982, but also was a part-time public defender through 2006.

Stauber was an Army infantry officer after receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1970.

"Larry has a combination of civil law as a private practitioner as well criminal law as a part-time public defender for nearly 30 years," Pawlenty said. "His professional background along with his service to his community and country will make him a well-rounded addition to the Court of Appeals."

The Duluth native has not been a judge, but said that would not hinder him on the state's second-highest court.

Stauber, 61, has been active on the Grand Lake Township Board and other community organizations.

He will step in for Judge R.A. "Jim" Randall, who retired from the Appeals Court April 4.

Stauber was born in Duluth. He still lives there with his wife, Cindy. Their two adult children are Erin and Leah.

He showed his sense of humor at a Capitol event.

Stauber said his wife had a previous engagement and could not attend the ceremony. But he told those in a governor's meeting room that people from up north can substitute their fishing buddies, and he brought one with him to the ceremony.

Eleven people applied for the 8th Congressional District judgeship that Pawlenty gave to Stauber.

Also appointed to the court was Larkin, a Wright County district court judge. She has been a judge since 2005, following a stint in the Hennepin County public defender's office.

Larkin will take over for Christopher Dietzen, who on Feb. 19 became a state Supreme Court justice.

With Pawlenty's Tuesday announcements, he now has named nine Appeals Court judges, including Dietzen.

More than 80 applicants asked to be considered for one of the two at-large judgeships.

Appeals Court judges hear cases that are appealed from district courts.

The Forum's Kim Winnegge contributed to this story.

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