News Item
MN Supreme Court Justices McKeig, Thissen Recognized with Awards

Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Anne K. McKeig and Associate Justice Paul C. Thissen were both recognized with awards in June 2021.

Justice McKeig was presented with the 2020 Child Welfare Leadership Award by the University of Minnesota School of Social Work Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare on June 25. The Child Welfare Leadership Award recognizes Minnesota leaders for their outstanding statewide contributions to child welfare practice.
Justice Thissen was presented with the Elmer H. Wiblishauser Author’s Award by the Publications Committee of “Bench & Bar,” the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association, on June 30. The Award recognizes the author of the best article contributed to “Bench & Bar” during the previous year, and Justice Thissen’s contribution was "When Rules Get in the Way of Reason: One judge’s view of legislative interpretation."
Justice McKeig, a descendant of the White Earth Nation, made history as the first American Indian named to a state supreme court. She has committed over 25 years to serving Minnesota’s most vulnerable children and families in a number of capacities. Justice McKeig began her career in child welfare as an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney in 1992 in the Child Protection Division, where she specialized in Indian Child Welfare cases. In 2008, she was appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty to the Fourth Judicial District bench. As an Assistant County Attorney and a Hennepin County District Court Judge, she played a pivotal role in developing both state and national protocols and programs for child protection and Indian Child Welfare. She has also collaborated on practices to address child custody, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and equal access to justice.
Justice Thissen was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Mark Dayton on May 14, 2018. He was a Minnesota State Representative from 2003 until his appointment to the Supreme Court, serving as the Speaker of the House and as Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Also prior to his appointment, he was Senior Counsel of the Health Law Group at the Ballard Spahr Law Firm, a shareholder at Briggs and Morgan, an Appellate State Public Defender, and a law clerk for the Honorable James B. Loken at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. During his 25-year legal career, Justice Thissen represented a wide range of pro bono clients, including survivors of domestic abuse seeking protective orders, people fleeing persecution in their home countries, and parents seeking to preserve custody rights. Justice Thissen also developed and organized a program to train lawyers on the unique needs and obstacles to justice for people with disabilities, and then paired those lawyers with pro bono clients.