David Lillehaug and Wilhelmina Wright, the latest two justices appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, won election Tuesday, staving off challenges to their seats on the state's highest court.
Lillehaug was challenged by West St. Paul attorney Michelle MacDonald, who founded the Family Innocence Nonprofit Project. MacDonald gained notoriety since winning the state Republican Party's endorsement last spring. Soon after, reports surfaced that she had been arrested for refusing to submit to a breath test and obstructing the legal process during an April 2013 traffic stop in which police suspected she was drunk.
She has wrangled with the party since then, including being barred from the party's booth at the Minnesota State Fair. A Dakota County jury convicted her in September.
Lillehaug, 60, was appointed to the court last year by Gov. Mark Dayton. He grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D., and graduated from Harvard Law School. He served as U.S. attorney for Minnesota from 1994 to 1998. He oversaw several high-profile gang prosecutions, including a case in which St. Paul gang members firebombed a home and killed five children. He was in private practice with Fredrikson & Byron for 11 years before his appointment.
Wright faced John Hancock, a graduate of Hamline Law School in St. Paul. In a questionnaire by the Minnesota Newspaper Association, Hancock wrote that he has more than 30 years of combined legal and federal law enforcement experience.
Wright, 50, was appointed by Dayton in 2012. She graduated from Harvard Law School. She was an assistant U.S. attorney in Minnesota, where she prosecuted economic-fraud and violent-crime cases. She has served on all three levels of the state judiciary. She was a Ramsey County District Court trial judge from 2000 to 2002. She served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a decade before her ascent to the state Supreme Court. Justices are elected to six-year terms on the seven-member court.