Gov. Mark Dayton filled two vacancies in the state’s 10th Judicial District Wednesday, including one that will make history: Juanita Freeman, a senior prosecutor in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, will become the first black district judge to serve in Washington County.
“This means the world to me,” said Freeman, who lives in Washington County. “The bench is becoming more reflective of the county. I’m honored to be breaking down that barrier.”
Freeman will be based at the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater and begin her new job in November, replacing Judge Susan Miles.
As a senior assistant Hennepin County attorney, Freeman has managed a team that handles domestic abuse cases in the Child Protection Division. She has also prosecuted adult crime and gang cases.
She’s a graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul and began working for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office as a law clerk in 2006.
“All the cases I worked on meant a lot to me,” she said. “Many were difficult, but they were all very important.”
Freeman is an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline College of Law, where she teaches advocacy. She serves on the board of Mitchell Hamline’s Gateway to Legal Education, and volunteers at Red Rock Elementary School and Epiphany Covenant Church.
Dayton also appointed Karen Schommer, deputy criminal chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis, to the 10th District bench. She will replace Judge Gary Schurrer and be based at Elk River in Sherburne County.
The 10th District is the second largest of Minnesota’s judicial districts, after Hennepin County, and is served by 45 judges.
In a statement, Dayton said that Freeman and Schommer have shown “great judgment and professionalism” throughout their legal careers. “I thank them for their continued service to the people of Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District,” Dayton said.
Schommer is on the board for the Minnesota chapter of the Federal Bar Association and volunteers at Northpoint Elementary School and Feed My Starving Children.
The 10th District includes Washington, Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne and Wright counties.