Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday announced the appointments of three new judges to Hennepin County District Court.

Lyonel Norris, M. Jacqueline Regis and David Piper will fill vacancies created by the retirements of judges Patricia Belois, John Sommerville and Jack Nordby.

Norris currently serves as an assistant federal defender, representing low-income defendants charged with federal crimes. He was previously director of the Office of Equity for the Minnesota Department of Education, an assistant state public defender and a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis. He earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1983, and lives in Minneapolis.

Regis is currently senior associate general counsel at UnitedHealth Group Inc., where she provides legal services to the company's Medicare Advantage business. She was previously a member of St. Paul Travelers Insurance Companies' Legal Services Department, and served as the state's assistant attorney general. She is a former adjunct professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law. She earned a law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1977, and lives in Golden Valley.

Piper, currently a Hennepin County Family Court referee, created the current Family Court public defender program and the public defender conflicts panel. He has also served as chief of both. He also played a key role in initiating the Self Help Center, an arm of the court that assists self-represented parties.

Before joining Family Court, Piper concentrated his private practice on specialty courts, where he represented children, parents and guardians ad litem in juvenile court and disadvantaged clients in probate court. He is a 1979 graduate of Hamline Law School, and lives in Minneapolis.