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Minnesota names first Black chief justice of state Supreme Court, Natalie Hudson

She will lead the high court after the current chief justice retires in October.
Judge Natalie E. Hudson at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Judge Natalie Hudson at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul on Aug. 18, 2015.Renee Jones Schneider / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday promoted Natalie Hudson to be chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, making her the first Black person to lead it.

Then-Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Hudson as an associate justice in 2015. She will lead the high court when current Chief Justice Lorie Gildea retires in October.

“Justice Hudson is one of our state’s most experienced jurists. She has a strong reputation as a leader and consensus builder,” Walz said in a statement. “I am confident that she will advance a vision that promotes fairness and upholds the dignity of all Minnesotans.”

Hudson said in the same statement, “This is a tremendous responsibility that I approach with humility and resolve, seeking to continue the work of my predecessors in administering one of the best state court systems in the nation, and always seeking to deliver the most accessible, highest-quality court services for the citizens of Minnesota.”

Hudson started her legal career in 1982 as a staff attorney for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, where she represented low-income clients dealing with housing issues. In 1986, she became an associate attorney at Robins, Zelle, Larson & Kaplan, now known as Robins Kaplan, practicing employment law and general civil litigation, according to her website

Hudson was also the assistant dean of student affairs at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul for a decade until 1992. 

Hudson was appointed to the state’s Court of Appeals in 2002, and she was re-elected twice before she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2015. She has served on several task forces and committees, including the Minnesota Supreme Court Racial Bias Task Force, which aims to prevent racial bias and discrimination in the court system. 

Walz named Karl Procaccini, his former general counsel, to fill Hudson’s spot as associate justice.