Year in Review 2020: Nobles County judge joins Supreme Court

He performed the swearing-in of his successor to the district court.

Newly appointed Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Gordon Moore takes questions during a press conference in St. Paul on Friday, May 15. (Evan Frost/MPR News)

ST. PAUL — This year represented a period of great change across the world, and in the case of one longtime Worthington resident, a major job promotion as well.

Worthington's Fifth Judicial District Judge Gordon Moore was appointed earlier this year as an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Gov. Tim Walz announced May 15 that Moore had been selected from among three finalists for the position.

A fixture in the community, Moore served as a district judge beginning in 2012. Before that, he was the Nobles County attorney. Moore was active in the Worthington First United Methodist Church, Worthington Hockey Association and the Worthington Futbol Club during his 25-year residency in the area.

Both Walz and Moore noted that he brings a unique perspective to the court as a native of Greater Minnesota. Moore's experience in diverse Nobles County prepared him to fight for equal justice for every Minnesotan, he told The Globe in June . He described his Fifth Judicial District tenure as "transformative."

When Moore was announced as the governor's pick for the Supreme Court, the Worthington community overwhelmingly expressed support for the judge and excitement over his selection.


Moore and his wife, Jane, have since moved to Northfield. He began his Supreme Court service Aug. 1.

So far, Moore has been involved in Supreme Court judgments such as whether a distress flare launcher constitutes a "firearm," whether a district court erred in sentencing a convicted murderer, whether a property owner must pay real estate taxes on a parcel of land before claiming adverse possession (or "squatter's rights") and whether a "fictitious name" includes an alias that uses part of a legal name.

In an Oct. 28 decision, the Supreme Court denied a petition by the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition for accelerated review of the governor's emergency powers. In this case, Moore dissented from his colleagues on the grounds that emergency powers must be clarified quickly because it is in the interest of the public and that Walz himself said he supported accelerated review.

Since moving away from Worthington, Moore has had some occasions to virtually "return" to the community. He performed the investiture of his Fifth Judicial District successor, Judge Sherry Haley, Nov. 6 . He also participated in a Zoom panel discussion Dec. 3 that celebrated the work of the Worthington office of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

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