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A seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court is opening up

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Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Christopher Dietzen is retiring.

According to Thursday's announcement by the high court, Dietzen notified Gov. Mark Dayton of his decision on Wednesday.

Dietzen, 69, thanked Minnesotans for the opportunity to serve on their courts, saying "The challenge of deciding difficult cases has been made easier by serving with exceptional colleagues."

Dietzen was born in Yakima, Washington, and took a job with a Twin Cities law firm in 1978. He was named to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, taking a seat on the bench in 2008 after four years on the state Court of Appeals.

Dietzen's retirement is effective at the end of August.

70 is Minnesota's mandatory retirement age for judges. According to the Star Tribune, Dietzen said he considered whether to allow his term to end – in which case voters would have elected his successor in November – or resign sooner and allow Dayton to appoint a new justice.

Ultimately, the newspaper says, Dietzen told the governor: "My judgment is that having you exercise your constitutional authority to appoint my successor best serves the judicial branch and the citizens of Minnesota.”

Dietzen's successor will be the fifth Minnesota Supreme Court Justice appointed by Dayton. Only four of the seven justices still serving will be Dayton appointments, though, since Justice Wilhelmina Wright is leaving for a U.S. District Court seat.

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