The Potluck

County attorney candidate says she inadvertently filed for office with expired law license card

By: - October 14, 2022 7:55 am

Hennepin County attorney candidate Martha Holton Dimick filed paperwork to run for county attorney with an law expired license, even though state law requires that she submit an active one with her paperwork. Screenshot from campaign ad.

For days, Hennepin County attorney candidate Martha Holton Dimick has been hounded on social media about whether she had an active law license, which is required to run for county attorney. 

Her adversaries had good reason: She submitted an expired license when she filed for the office, even though state law requires that she submit an active one with her paperwork. Further muddying the picture, she deactivated the license in August before recently reactivating it. 

Faced with questions on Thursday, her campaign sought to clear up the confusion. Her campaign spokesman, Jacob Hill, said she inadvertently produced a copy of an expired license, even though she had an active license. 

“She pulled out one of her old cards instead of the current one,” Hill said.

State law requires county attorney candidates to submit “a copy of a current attorney license.” But the license Dimick filed on May 31 expired in April 2019, according to documents filed with the county elections office.

As proof, Hill produced an email from the Minnesota Board of Continuing Legal Education Lawyer Registration Office saying Holton Dimick paid the annual license renewal fee in April. She deactivated the license in August to avoid the renewal fee, but requested that it be reactivated Oct. 6 after questions were raised on social media about whether she was a licensed attorney. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the Minnesota Attorney Registration System showed Holton Dimick is authorized to practice law.

Cassondra Knudson, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Secretary of State, said if a Hennepin County resident believes the candidate filing was accepted in error, they can file an “errors and omissions petition” with the Fourth Judicial District and ask that the court strike the candidate from the ballot.

Holton Dimick, a former prosecutor and judge, faces off against former Hennepin County chief public defender Mary Moriarty in the Nov. 8 election to replace Mike Freeman, who is retiring.

Moriarty said her law license has been active since 1989: “I made sure my fees were paid, CLEs were up to date, and that everything was in order according to state statute,” she said. 

Moriarty seeks to join other defense attorneys who have become the top prosecutors in big cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco, promising a less punitive approach to criminal justice and more accountability for police wrongdoing. Holton Dimick’s campaign has focused on stemming rising violent crime, especially by repeat offenders. 

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.