One of the lead attorneys in the successful prosecution of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in 2020 was one of two people appointed Tuesday by Gov. Tim Walz to be a judge in Hennepin County District Court.
Matthew Frank, who presented the case against Chauvin as an attorney in the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, is succeeding Nicole Engisch, who has been on the bench since 2014 and has recently gone into private practice with Dorsey & Whitney.
Also tapped for a judgeship was Sarah Hudleston, an assistant U.S. attorney in the violent and major crimes section of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Minnesota district. Hudleston is succeeding M. Jacqueline Regis, who was a Hennepin County judge from 2011 until her retirement in January.
Starting dates for Frank and Hudleston in their new jobs have yet to be determined, a spokeswoman for the governor's office said.
In a statement, Walz said Frank, 58, "will be a remarkable judge who will approach this position with the understanding that justice is a process, not a result."
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, in a separate statement that apparently nodded to worldwide interest in the livestreamed 2021 Chauvin trial, said Frank's "wide-ranging experience and calming leadership in challenging moments will make him an excellent judge."
While with the Attorney General's Office for more than 20 years, Frank has supervised attorneys handling criminal prosecutions, criminal appeals, civil commitments, civil matters regarding the predatory offender registration statute, and community notification risk level appeals. He previously worked as an assistant county attorney in the Wright County Attorney's Office, an assistant public defender in the Anoka County, an attorney in the Taylor Law Firm, and a judicial law clerk in Hennepin County.
Attorney General Keith Ellison said that "Governor Walz couldn't have made a better pick in Matt Frank. Matt is not only thoughtful, hardworking, and deeply respected by his colleagues, he wakes up every day motivated by fairness and equal justice and treats everyone involved in the criminal justice system with dignity and respect."
One of Frank's fellow prosecutors in the Chauvin trial, Jerry Blackwell, won U.S. Senate confirmation in December as a federal judge in Minnesota.
In appointing Hudleston, 47, Walz's statement read, "She is an exceptional attorney who will work hard to ensure that our justice system strives to be the best that it can be."
Flanagan added that Hudleston "understands and appreciates that all cases are unique, and justice should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Her heart and lived experience will serve all those who enter her courtroom."
While an assistant U.S. attorney, Hudleston prosecuted various felonies, including child exploitation, bank fraud, kidnapping, armed robbery, firearms, narcotics and government program fraud offenses.
"Sarah Hudleston is a true champion for justice," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said after hearing of her appointment. "She brings intelligence, judgment and integrity to her new position as a Hennepin County judge."