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3 finalists considered for Yellow Medicine judge

SAINT PAUL -- Three attorneys with experience as prosecutors are being considered for appointment to the trial court bench vacancy in Granite Falls, part of the Eight Judicial District.

The Commission on Judicial Selection recommended Chippewa County Attorney Dwayne Knutsen, Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson, and former Chippewa County Attorney David Gilbertson for appointment.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on Friday that he had accepted the recommendations and will be appointing a successor to Bruce Christopherson.

Christopherson retired at the end of 2009, but is currently assisting on a temporary basis while the appointment process is underway.

Gilbertson, of Montevideo, is an attorney and partner with the Montevideo law firm of Nelson Oyen Torvik. He has been a partner with the firm and its predecessors since 1979, was an associate attorney from 1977 to 1978, and a law clerk in 1976. Gilbertson has also been the Clarkfield City Attorney since 1996, and an assistant Montevideo City Attorney from 1977 to 1987 and again since 1999. He was the Chippewa County Attorney from 1987 through 1998, and an assistant Chippewa County Attorney from 1977 through 1986. Gilbertson earned his juris doctorate degree cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1977, and his bachelor of arts degree from Augsburg College in Minneapolis summa cum laude in 1974.

Helgeson, of Granite Falls, is the Yellow Medicine County Attorney, a position he has held since June 2006. He was an assistant Yellow Medicine County Attorney from 1993 to 2006, a law clerk to Eighth Judicial District Judge Bruce Christopherson in Granite Falls from 1991 to 1993, and a paralegal with the Schwan Food Company in Marshall in 1989. Helgeson earned his juris doctorate degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul in 1991, and his bachelor of science degree magna cum laude from Southwest State University in Marshall in 1988.

Knutsen, of Montevideo, is an attorney with the Montevideo law firm of Prindle, Maland, Sellner, Stennes, Knutsen and Stermer and is also the Chippewa County attorney. He has been an attorney with the Prindle firm since 1986 and the Chippewa County attorney since 1999. He was also a part-time assistant Eighth Judicial District public defender from 1995 to 1998. Knutsen earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota in 1985 and his bachelor of arts degree from the University of South Dakota at Vermillion in 1973.