Skip to Main Content
Minnesota State Law Library Logo

Minnesota State Law Library

Eric J. Magnuson, Chief Justice 2008-2010

Eric J. Magnuson, Chief Justice, 2008-2010

On March 17, 2008, Governor Tim Pawlenty named Eric Magnuson Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Chief Justice Magnuson served for two years from June 2, 2008, until he resigned on June 30, 2010.


Eric Magnuson was born in Morris, Illinois on January 27, 1951. He graduated with a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota in 1972 and with J.D., cum laude, from William Mitchell College of Law in 1976.

During law school, Magnuson clerked for Hennepin County District Court Judge Douglas K. Amdahl who would later serve as Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.   

In his first year after law school, Magnuson clerked for Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Sheran before joining the  Minneapolis firm of Rider Bennett, where he practiced law from 1997 to 2007.  Magnuson left Rider Bennett for a position at Briggs and Morgan, where he spent a year practicing law before being appointed Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Tim Pawlenty on March 17, 2008.

Prior to his appointment to the Court, Magnuson also served as Chair of the Commission on Judicial Selection from 2003 to 2008. He also wrote articles and books about Appellate law and procedure.

Chief Justice Magnuson resigned from the Court on June 30, 2010, after authoring the controversial opinion in Deanna Brayton, et al., Respondents, vs. Tim Pawlenty, et al., Appellants. A10-64, Supreme Court, May 5, 2010, in which the court held that “[t]he executive branch exceeded its authority under Minn. Stat. § 16A.152, subd. 4 (2008), by using that statute to balance the budget through reducing allotments before the budget-making process was completed.”

After leaving the Court, Magnuson returned to private practice as a partner at the Minneapolis firm of Robins Kaplan where he practiced appellate advocacy until his retirement in 2022.

Eric J. Magnuson signature

Eric J. Magnuson's signature from the Minnesota Supreme Court's Roll of Attorneys,1971-1983, p 137 (September 23, 1976), available online at: