Associate Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Mark Dayton, where she served from 2012 to 2016. She was nominated by President Barack Obama on April 15, 2015 to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 19, 2016. She took the federal court oath of office on February 18, 2016.
Justice Wright previously served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals from Sept. 3, 2002, to Sept. 26, 2012. During her time on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Justice Wright served as Presiding Judge on the Special Redistricting Panel from June 2011 to August 2012.
Previously she served as a trial judge on the Ramsey County District Court in Saint Paul. She has served as a member of the Minnesota Judicial Council, the Minnesota Courts Public Trust and Confidence Work Group, and the Minnesota State Bar Association Task Force on the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
Justice Wright graduated with honors in Literature from Yale University in 1986. She received her juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1989.
Prior to joining the bench, Justice Wright was an Assistant U.S. 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, Justice 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. After law school, Justice Wright was a law clerk for the Honorable Damon J. Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Justice Wright is active in her community, having previously served on the:
- William Mitchell College of Law Board of Trustees;
- Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Advisory Council;
- Minnesota Lawyer Advisory Board;
- Minnesota Women Lawyers Advisory Committee;
- Ramsey County Community Corrections Advisory Committee;
- Federal Bar Association of Minnesota Board of Directors;
- Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Board of Directors;
- Girl Scout Council of Saint Croix Valley Board of Directors;
- Mardag Foundation Board of Directors;
- Hamline University Women in Leadership Advisory Council;
- Saint Paul Public Schools Graduate Standards Advisory Committee; and the
- Yale Alumni Schools Committee.
Justice Wright currently serves on the Saint Paul Academy and Summit School Board of Trustees and the Yale University Council. Justice Wright is a member of the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, and the National Association of Women Judges.
Justice Wright was elected to the American Law Institute in 2008. She received the Myra Bradwell Award in 2006 from 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.
Justice Wright has served with International Bridges to Justice in Geneva, Switzerland as a consultant on criminal justice training in the development and application of the rule of law. She has taught Ethical Leadership in Litigation as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. She also has lectured at graduate schools in Belgium and Switzerland on judicial selection and judicial accountability in the United States.