City Hall gets Rybak's pick for city attorney

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2008 - 10:12 PM

Hennepin County Attorney Susan Segal is coming to job with a mandate to strengthen ties with neighborhoods, Rybak says.

Although her experience is mostly in civil law, the newly nominated city attorney of Minneapolis is coming into the job with a mandate to bring the office closer to residents affected by crime.

Mayor R.T. Rybak nominated Susan Segal Tuesday to replace Jay Heffern, who served for 11 years and wasn't reappointed. The city's Executive Committee takes up Segal's nomination for a two-year term today.

Segal said she's already read the freshly printed youth violence prevention report that Rybak has made a priority. "I am drawn to public service and I feel strongly about the kinds of things the city deals with," she said. The issues include safe housing, homelessness, domestic violence, drunk driving, offsetting the effect of violence on children, and other victim services, she said.

Rybak said he's gotten community feedback that residents want to be better connected with the city office that handles many of the crimes that define livability. That means helping people to understand what needs to happen to turn an arrest into a conviction, he said.

Segal is an assistant Hennepin County attorney who helped run the county attorney's office under former occupant Amy Klobuchar. Rybak called that management experience one of her assets, but he also expects her to be in the community.

"She's a good listener. She's very patient. She's got very wise things to say," said former county attorney Tom Johnson, who worked with Segal at the Gray Plant Mooty law firm.

Segal spent several months in juvenile prosecution for Hennepin County, but the bulk of her legal experience is in employment law. That is typical of the office's last few occupants. The city attorney is the city's chief legal adviser, but more of its attorneys handle misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor prosecutions.

Johnson said his advice to Segal is to talk to neighborhood associations and to better connect the city's community prosecutors to neighborhoods. He is president of the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime and Justice, which deals with causes of crime and violence.

Segal has been president of the Mental Health Association of Minnesota, following the work of her mother, the late state legislator Gloria Segal, on mental health issues. She said she pushed for a change in state law that made it easier for police to access mental health information about people when they needed it.

Segal, 53, a Minneapolis native, has taught at the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell law schools.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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