Phillip D. Bush
Originally published in the July/August 1989 issue.
Author: Bev Wolfe
Portions of this profile were redacted on request of the Judge.
Philip Diehl Bush brings to the bench an extensive background in criminal law. He majored in Criminal Justice Studies and Sociology as an undergraduate and received a Master of Arts in Criminological Studies from Sheffield University in England. Judge Bush has taught college courses on criminal justice studies and has done work on criminal justice studies both as a research fellow at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and as a research specialist at the Ford Foundation.
In additional to his strong academic background in criminal justice, Judge Bush has served as an Assistant Hennepin County Public Defender for the past nine years.
Judge Bush decided to become an attorney in 1972 while he was working as a paralegal for a small law firm.
From 1980-1985, Judge Bush worked in the Litigation Division of the public defender’s office. His work included representing both adults and juveniles charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses, parties in dependency/neglect or termination of parental rights suits, and men in paternity suits. During his tenure in this division, Judge Bush represented well over 1500 indigent clients.
In 1985, Judge Bush transferred to the office’s Research, Appeals and Training Division and remained there until his appointment to the bench. In this division he wrote briefs and orally argued many cases before Minnesota’s appellate courts and prepared all amicus curiae briefs submitted by his office. His responsibilities included providing education and training to staff members, development of office policy and procedures, and computerization of office procedures and systems. In addition, he served as the office’s representative to county task forces including the Hennepin County Juvenile Civil Commitment Task Force and the Hennepin County Day Fine Task Force.
As a public defender, Judge Bush defined his role as assuring his clients had a fair trial and were fully accorded their rights no matter how unpopular.
Judge Bush has compiled an impressive list of publication credits including an article he co-authored on the future of voir dire for which he was awarded the Minnesota Bar Association’s Author Award. He has also served as a lecturer at numerous continuing legal education programs.
Judge Bush considers his two most significant accomplishments as an attorney to be his efforts in assisting battered women and his help in subjecting juvenile court proceedings to greater appellate scrutiny. Judge Bush has represented both sides in battered women cases. He has represented men who have assaulted women and battered women who have killed their assailants. He has been a speaker and resource person for the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women and has served as a consultant for defense attorneys across the state who represent battered women. Through his appellate work, Judge Bush attempted to increase appellate courts’ supervision over juvenile court procedures. Due to the closed nature of the juvenile court system, Judge Bush believes it is essential to enlarge the appellate courts’ supervision of juvenile court procedures. He has sought to accomplish this goal by seeking writs from the appellate courts and by appealing certain cases that raise important issues pertaining to the due process rights of juveniles.
Judge Bush hopes to encourage computerization of more of the court’s processes. He has already been a major contributor to increasing the efficiency of the public defender’s office through the use of computers. Judge Bush hopes that the increased use of personal computers will lighten the bench’s workload and give individual judges more time to make the hard decisions they are often called upon to make.
He has found his work as a public defender to be very rewarding, but sometimes frustrating. He enjoyed the working environment within the public defender’s office, but admits that on an emotional level the work can be difficult. He is leaving his position as an advocate with mixed emotions but looks forward to the different responsibilities and challenges his position on the bench will bring.
Philip Bush is married to an attorney in private practice. They have two sons.