The openings stem from the recent resignation of Duluth Judge Shaun Floerke, who was hired as director of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, and Hibbing Judge Mark Starr, who will retire in April.
In Duluth the finalists are Robert Barnes, Amy Lukasavitz and Shawn Pearson. In Hibbing it’s Hannah Forti, Bhupesh Pattni and Jaclyn Simon.
The six candidates were announced publicly on Friday by the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection. They are recommended to Governor Tim Walz, who is expected to announce his two appointments in the coming weeks.
Barnes, 56, a lifelong Duluthian, is a partner at McCarthy & Barnes, working in personal injury, professional and business liability, insurance, and arbitration / mediation.
Barnes is a certified process specialist with the Minnesota State Bar Association. He volunteers as a high school mock trial judge, served on the local ethics committee, and is a former board member of the Scott D. Anderson Leadership Foundation.
Lukasavitz, 48, an Iron Range native, is an associate attorney for St. Louis County in Duluth specializing in juvenile delinquency, early school leaving and estate recovery issues. She is a former defense attorney and parent’s attorney on child protection cases.
Lukasavitz has a background in restorative justice initiatives and treatment courts. He has served in the Duluth-based mental health and drug courts and has volunteered for the Crisis Intervention Team, the Duluth Playhouse, and the Volunteer Attorney Program.
Pearson, 46, currently represents parents on child welfare issues across the region and handles a variety of workplace discrimination cases in state and federal courts. As a trained mediator, he has extensive experience in civil litigation, appeal proceedings and as an in-house attorney for General Mills and Essentia Health.
In the community, Pearson mentors Twin Cities Diversity in Practice and serves on the boards of the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce and the Zenon Dance Company. He also teaches seminars at Community Action Duluth and the Family Freedom Center, and has volunteered for the Children’s Law Center.
Forti, 39, works for the Prebich law firm in Hibbing, where he handles family, criminal, real estate, estate planning and civil litigation cases and serves as the Iron Range’s public defender. Forti is also a mediator and a member of the local mental health court and the Iron Range Domestic Violence Committee. He is a former member of the local drug and DWI court.
Forti is a volunteer with the Legal Aid Service’s Private Attorney Involvement Program in northeast Minnesota. He is also a member of the Range Regional Hospital Services Board and the Chisholm Downtown Revitalization Project and a past vice chairman of the Chisholm Community Foundation.
The 40-year-old Pattni works for the law firm Trenti for the iron chain and represents clients in the areas of civil procedure law, family law, inheritance law, real estate law and criminal law. He is also a public defender. He is a member of the local treatment team and has represented children in the care system as well as in delinquency and early school leavers.
Pattni is a member of the Equal Justice Initiative Committee, Law Library Board, and Local Bar Ethics Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Lyric Center for the Arts and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.
Forty-year-old Simon is a managing partner at Hibbing’s Sellman, Borland & Simon and also a public defender. She works in the areas of criminal defense, family law, mediation, local law, real estate law, inheritance law and civil procedure law and already has experience as a parent lawyer in child protection cases.
Simon is currently a member of the Chisholm School Board. He also volunteers for the Private Attorney Involvement Program and serves on the Equal Justice Committee and the Personal and Policy Committee of the Minnesota Discovery Center.
The 6th Judicial District has 16 judges in six courthouses in counties of St. Louis, Carlton, Cook, and Lake. The judges must live in the district and appear on the ballot in all four counties.