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Judicial Appointments News

Commission on Judicial Selection Recommends Seventh Judicial District Candidates to Governor Walz

3/24/2020 10:00:16 AM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced today that it is recommending three candidates to the Governor for consideration to fill the current vacancy in Minnesota’s Seventh Judicial District. The vacancies will occur upon the retirements of the Honorable Frank J. Kundrat and the Honorable John H. Scherer. Both positions created by these retirements will be chambered at St. Cloud in Stearns County.

Tara Ferguson Lopez: Ms. Lopez is currently a Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney in the Adult Prosecution Division where she supervises a team of trial attorneys, oversees the office’s Sex Trafficking work and handles her own felony caseload. Previously, she was a Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney in the Child Protection Division where she represented the Health and Human Services Department and handled cases involving child protection and welfare matters. Ms. Lopez has also served as a Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney in charge of Domestic Assault prosecutions, as an Assistant County Attorney in the Mille Lacs County Attorney's Office and in private practice. Ms. Lopez serves on the St. Cloud Public Library Board, the 4 th Judicial District Domestic Fatality Review Team, Family Violence Coordinating Council, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office Performance Management Committee, and the board of Children's Day Montessori in St. Cloud.

Laura Moehrle: Ms. Moehrle is a civil trial attorney, shareholder, and Chief Financial Officer of Quinlivan & Hughes, PA. Ms. Moehrle manages an active litigation practice focused on the defense of medical malpractice, motor vehicle accident, and legal malpractice claims in Minnesota and North Dakota state and federal courts, as well as the representation of health care providers and attorneys before their professional licensing boards. She is a frequent lecturer and educator on civil litigation topics and serves as co-chair of the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association Health Care Liability Committee. Ms. Moehrle is engaged in the St. Cloud community by serving on the Board of Directors of Kids Fighting Hunger for the past fourteen years, fundraising for Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, and previously coaching the Apollo High School Mock Trial Team.

Karl Schmidt: Mr. Schmidt is a Senior Assistant Benton County Attorney who has served in that office since 1999, with the past seventeen years focused on prosecuting adult felony cases as well as all extradition and fugitive from justice matters. He is an experienced trial attorney who has obtained guilty verdicts in a wide variety of cases, including the most serious felony person crimes such as murder, physical and sexual assault, and aggravated robbery. Mr. Schmidt has also handled gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors, juvenile delinquencies, child protection, and child support enforcement. Prior to becoming a prosecutor, he served as a Seventh District public defender for nearly five years. Mr. Schmidt’s community involvement includes eighteen years on both the Benton County Benefits Advisory Committee and Benton County Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council, as well as volunteering for Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity.

Nathaniel Welte: Mr. Welte currently serves as an assistant county attorney for the Becker County Attorney’s Office. In this role he primarily handles felony person offenses, juvenile delinquencies, and civil litigation. Mr. Welte was previously in private practice and handled a wide variety of matters including family law, child protection, probate, real estate, and criminal defense. Mr. Welte also served as a part-time assistant public defender for the State of Minnesota. He is actively involved as an assistant scoutmaster for Perham Boy Scout Troop 321, and previously served as a former board member of the New York Mills Cultural Center, President of the New York Mills Lions, and member in the Perham Rotary Club.

Minnesota’s Seventh Judicial District consists of Becker, Benton, Clay, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd, and Wadena Counties.

For more information about the judicial selection process, please visit our website:

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