To say that I'm keenly disappointed in the decisions of my otherwise close -
and progressive - friends, Jeanne Weigum and Tom Goldstein would be the
understatement of a generation.

Since both of these people have had fairly intimate contact with the law and
the judiciary over several years, they should also know that the complaints
Jeanne raises could have a thousand reasons behind them having nothing to do
with Judge Fetsch's competence to remain on the bench. Rather than rushing
to judgment on a single case experience, it would behoove anyone voting for
this seat to examine the complete record and talk with people who must deal
with the judge every day and on a regular basis.

Jeanne recalls that when he had time to digest briefs and other evidence in
the MPAAT case, and with proper facts in in mind, Michael Fetsch ruled in
favor of her organization. What conditions were present for the initial
ruling and the delay are something he should be queried about, but anyone
familiar with the justice system understands the docket load, the short time
judges have in considering the merits around temporary restraining orders
and the competing arguments which a judge must consider quickly within an
otherwise overwhelming docket load.

It's possible for instance, that he was concerned that the merits would
eventually preclude MPAAT expenditures of state-stewarded tobacco settlement
funds for seeking local smoking bans in Minnesota cities rather than using
them for pure educational materials and events and in lieu of a full trial
on those merits, felt the need to cease all activity until that trial could
be held. These are technical legal issues and procedures a judge must
consider that parties to a process can almost never remain objective about.

As for the timing, no one should no better than those of us who have wanted
immediate action from a glacial system of justice to prevent closing or
expedite closings, etc. etc.

Tom is a lawyer and should know better. Jeanne's been through this dozens of
times.  We both have. A judge may be powerful, but even Mohammed can't move
the mountain in disputes where millions of dollars and wildly competing
agendas are at play for the money.

But if this case is going to be used as a symbolic reason not to reelect
Michael Fetsch, then I consider such judgment highly irresponsible for their
lack of solid political foundation.

Fetsch will probably cringe at this, but in all the 60 years I've known him,
no man could be more feminist, no lawyer more attuned to the underdog, no
near-priest could be as compassionate and no judge could be more competent
and fair as Michael Fetsch.

Before he was a judge, Mike was a solid progressive, but always listened to
all sides concerned. He is a mature, reasonable, knowledgeable and
experienced jurist and if someone has evidence to the contrary, I want more
facts than Ms. Sifferle has given us through her veiled negative comments
that weren't going to be  negative. And I surely want more evidence than
Jeanne Weigum has supplied that what she experienced as a party - or
interested friend of the party - to a case in which she had a passionate
personal and professional interest. To unseat a sitting jurist of this man's
stature requires patterns of incompetence and unfairness and laziness and
whatever else one wishes to cite as reason for pushing him off the bench.

Furthermore - what possible qualifications have we seen to commend Patricia
Sifferle as his replacement? None that I can see, except her own words as
being what every judge should be.

Can you tell I'm voting to retain Mike Fetsch on the district court? Can you
tell I'm very concerned that the criteria being used to unseat him are weak
and unconvincing?

Andy Driscoll
Crocus Hill/Ward 2

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 23:25:02 -0500
From: "Tom Goldstein/Elysian Fields Quarterly" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "Jeanne Weigum" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

Here's a good example of how the St. Paul issues list can provide helpful
info. in our community, such as relating one's interactions with public
officials. Since Jeanne Weigum's word is pretty golden for me, I'm going to
go with the challenger as well. And you can see from Sifferle's website that
she's not some right wing ideologue. Plus, she's a Carleton grad, which
means she's gotta have something on the ball!

Tom Goldstein
(now) Hamline-Midway
Carleton '79

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jeanne Weigum" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "John Birrenbach" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Cc: "St. Paul Discuss" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 2:09 PM
Subject: Re: [StPaul] Sifferle For Ramsey County Judge??

> I had some interactions with Judge Fetsch as it was his court that managed the
> MPAAT challenge led by Attorney General Hatch.  This case involved unfounded
> allegations which the AG supported primarily with documentation from a
> newspaper article.  The early filings made by MPAAT did not appear to have
> been read by the judge.  I base this belief on several errors of fact which he
> made in his first ruling.  I hope no one asks me to identify those errors of
> fact because it will require a great deal of work to dig it up and I simply do
> not remember the details.
> He then allowed the case to take month upon month to be resolved, resulting in
> the organization (MPAAT) being virtually shut down for a year.  The AG kept
> asking for more and more data and in more and more different forms.  He seemed
> to believe he was going to find some illegal or unethical behavior on the part
> of the MPAAT staff or board.  None was ever turned up.
> When Judge Fetch held the final hearing it was clear that he HAD read the
> documents and for the first time revealed that he understood them.  The AG
> attempted to argue another case and Judge Fetch would have none of it.  He
> chastised the AG's attorney  for continuing to try to argue issues which the
> Judge had already decided.  He quickly ruled in MPAAT's favor.
> It is my opinion that this case was allowed to drag on an unreasonably long
> period of time thus damaging the reputation of MPAAT and interfering with the
> work of the organization because he was not on top of the case from the
> beginning.  In the end his ruling was clear and fair but the process could
> hardly have been worse.
> For example, I attended one hearing.  I knew the hearing date, time and place.
> The hearing time and place were changed and I ended up running around various
> government building trying to find it.  When I finally arrived the hearing was
> all but over.  I learned that the hearing, which was about MPAAT's adherence
> to the open meeting law, had been changed at the last minute by the judge and
> even the attorneys were not given advance notice.  Now there is openness in
> the process!
> I will not be voting for Judge Fetsch, not because of the decision he
> ultimately made, but because I do not believe he was on top of the process of
> a case which was important to the public's health and because he allowed the
> case to cause serious consequences to the organization and to individuals
> which simply was not warranted.
> Jeanne Weigum,  Living and breating in Merriam Park and a former member of the
> board of directors of MPAAT, the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against
> Tobacco.

------ End of Forwarded Message

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