First African American Woman On MN Supreme Court

Governor Dayton Introduces Judge Wright As New MN Supreme Court Justice

Governor Dayton Introduces Judge Wright As New MN Supreme Court Justice

Governor Mark Dayton first appointment to Minnesota’s Supreme Court is history making. Today he announced the appointment of Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright to the position of Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. She is the first African-American woman to serve on the court.

Judge Wright replaces Justice Helen Meyer who has retired.

At the news conference announcing her appointment, Judge Wright praised Rosalie Wahl, who was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and Justice Alan Page who is the first African American elected to the court.

“My path has been paved by these two extraordinary justices.”

Judge Wright’s most recent high-profile role was presiding over Minnesota’s redistricting battle.

Press release from Governor Dayton’s office on Judge Wright’s appointment.

Judge Wright, 48, has served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals since 2002 and has authored over 700 opinions in that time. Prior to that, she served as a Trial Judge in the District Court of Ramsey County and as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, where she represented the United States in complex economic fraud cases and violent crime cases in the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She was awarded the United States Department of Justice Special Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Department of Justice Director’s Award for Public Service in 2000. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1995, Judge Wright practiced with the Washington, DC law firm of Hogan & Hartson, LLP. In the education and litigation practice groups, she primarily represented school districts across the nation seeking to enhance educational opportunities for public school students.

Judge Wright earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Yale College and her Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, where she was the Executive Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review.

“I am proud to announce my first appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Appellate Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright. It was a very difficult decision, as there were four superb candidates recommended by the Judicial Selection Commission. Any one of them would be an outstanding Supreme Court Justice,” said Governor Dayton.

“Judge Wright has proven her exceptional judiciary skills by authoring over 700 opinions during her decade serving on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. I read several of her opinions before making my decision. I was greatly impressed by her exceptional intellect, her written communication skills and, most importantly, her excellent judgment. I believe that she will serve the people of Minnesota with great distinction on our Supreme Court.”

About her appointment Judge Wright said, “I am honored to serve the people of Minnesota as an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. I will work hard to ensure that Minnesotans continue to have a judiciary that is committed to fairness and justice for all who entrust us with their most important affairs. It is my good fortune to devote my life’s work to preserving and to promoting the values of freedom and equal justice –values that I believe in so deeply.”

Judge Wright serves on the Committee for Equality and Justice. She has served on the Minnesota Judicial Council, the Family Law Appellate Mediation Rules Committee, and the Minnesota State Bar Association Task Force on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Judge Wright also is active in her community, serving on the Minnesota Women Lawyers Advisory Committee, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs Advisory Council, the Minnesota Lawyer Advisory Board and the Mardag Foundation Board of Directors. She has previously served on the William Mitchell College of Law Board of Trustees, the Ramsey County Community Corrections Advisory Committee, the Federal Bar Association of Minnesota Board of Directors, Saint Paul Academy Board of Trustees, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Board of Directors, the Girl Scout Council of Saint Croix Valley Board of Directors, the Hamline University Women in Leadership Advisory Council, the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, and the Saint Paul Public Schools Graduate Standards Advisory Committee. Judge Wright is a member of the American Bar Association, Minnesota State Bar Association, Ramsey County Bar Association, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, National Association of Women Judges and National Bar Association.

Judge Wright was elected to the American Law Institute in 2008. She received the Myra Bradwell Award in 2006 from the Minnesota Women Lawyers, the Lena O. Smith Achievement Award from the Black Women Lawyers Network in 2004, the B. Warren Hart Award for Public Service from the Saint Paul Jaycees in 2001, and the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans Award in 2000. In 2011, Judge Wright also received the Girls Scouts River Valleys Women of Distinction Award.

Judge Wright lives in St. Paul with her husband Dan Schmechel and their daughter Kathryn.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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