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Judge to weigh keeping Minnesota courts open during a general shutdown

Following up last week’s government shutdown hearing, a retired judge heard a case in Ramsey County on Monday to keep Minnesota’s courts open in the event that state government must close at the end of the week.

Bruce Christopherson, the retired judge, took Attorney General Lori Swanson’s arguments under advisement but didn’t indicate when he would rule, Capitol Chatter reports. Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin said she’ll likely make a ruling on the overall shutdown case this week.

The courts will determine which of  36,000 state employees will be laid off after June 30.

Gearin said last week that she was hesitant to overstep her bounds as only one branch of the government by appropriating funds – a legislative duty.

Assistant Attorney General Nate Brennaman told Christopherson, the judge from Granite Falls, that about 53,000 cases set for July would be in jeopardy if the courts didn’t receive their funding after a shutdown.

He added that police officers would be forced to release criminals after arresting them if the court system isn’t in place on July 1, according to Capitol Chatter.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP leaders in the Legislature continue to work toward a solution for Minnesota’s $5 billion deficit and avert a disastrous shutdown. They met over the weekend and initially called the talks productive, but later broke up after a short meeting Sunday without any explanation.

They plan to meet again at 3 p.m. today.

Dayton and lawmakers have fundamentally disagreed over Minnesota’s budget deficit since session began. Dayton would raise $1.8 billion in new revenues while the Republicans have repeatedly said that they’ll only spend what the state has on hand — about $34 billion.

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