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Judicial Appointments News

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

6/11/2020 10:58:15 AM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced today that it is recommending three candidates for consideration to fill the current vacancy in Minnesota’s Ninth Judicial District. The vacancy will occur upon the retirement of the Honorable Paul T. Benshoof and will be chambered in Bemidji in Beltrami County.

Jeanine Brand: Ms. Brand currently serves as an Assistant Cass County Attorney. In her role, Ms. Brand primarily handles prosecution of sexual assault, domestic assault, child endangerment, protective order violation, and controlled substance cases. Previously, Ms. Brand served as Clearwater County Attorney, Assistant Clearwater County Attorney, Assistant Bemidji City Attorney, and Assistant Clay County Attorney. Ms. Brand is actively involved in collaborative committees to address justice in the legal system and develop protocols with partnering service program, tribal, and governmental agencies. Previously, Ms. Brand taught Business Law at Bemidji State University and Criminal Law & Procedure at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Ms. Brand’s community involvement includes serving as the First Vice-President of Girl Scouts of America, Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines Council, Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Support Within Reach, and President of the Clearwater Library Foundation.

Tom Kuesel: Mr. Kuesel currently operates his own law firm in Northern Minnesota, where his practice focuses on criminal defense and personal injury matters. He is certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association. Previously, Mr. Kuesel has served as a part time Assistant Public Defender in the Ninth Judicial District, law clerk in the Eighth Judicial District, and student attorney for the Anoka County Attorney’s Office. Mr. Kuesel’s community involvement includes serving on the board of the Northwest Indian Community Development Center and serving as the chairman of Bemidji’s Hockey Day Minnesota 2019 Local Organizing Committee. Mr. Kuesel also volunteers as an assistant coach with the Bemidji High School Mock Trial Team.

Clifford Wardlaw: Mr. Wardlaw serves as an Assistant Polk County Attorney, where he handles criminal prosecution including narcotics, domestic violence, child abuse and criminal sexual conduct offenses. Previously, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, where he prosecuted violent crimes in Indian country. His community involvement includes volunteering as a recreation coach for youth basketball and softball and as a mock trial judge. Mr. Wardlaw is also a founding member of the board of directors for the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, and an honorary member of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association.

Minnesota’s Ninth Judicial District consists of the seventeen counties of northwest Minnesota, including Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.

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

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