Ex-Supreme Court chief given key role in sex offender case

Published 10:09 am Friday, July 24, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson was appointed Thursday to help facilitate potential changes to the state’s civil commitment program for sex offenders, which was ruled unconstitutional last month.

Magnuson, who will be the special master, is well-versed on issues surrounding the Minnesota Sex Offender Program: He was chairman of a task force that recommended an overhaul to the program in 2013, and warned lawmakers back then that if they failed to act, they risked having the program dismantled by the federal court.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank gave the state’s political leaders another chance to propose solutions for the program, which keeps sex offenders locked up indefinitely after they complete their prison sentences. He also made it clear that if changes aren’t made, he will impose his own, including possibly closing secure facilities at St. Peter and Moose Lake.

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Frank issued a written order Thursday, saying that a special master is necessary to coordinate the case going forward and “to accommodate the public interest in achieving prompt and just solutions to the serious constitutional problems identified by the Court.”