Simon George is a solo practitioner and part-time attorney in Detroit Lakes, and Heidi Schultz, assistant attorney for Todd County, has also served in Douglas County and is affiliated with Alexandria.
The new district judge will be appointed by Governor Tim Walz, who will interview the finalists and then make an announcement.
A schedule for his selection was not provided. Whoever is chosen has their chambers and courtrooms in Fergus Falls.
The appointed judge must stand for election nationwide in the next general election in 2022. The Seventh District includes counties of Becker, Benton, Clay, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd, and Wadena.
Detroit Lake attorney Simon George
George has represented clients in criminal, estate planning, divorce, custody and real estate matters and litigation in the White Earth Tribal Court. He also served as the White Earth Tribal Defender and was a member of the White Earth Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court.
George’s involvement in the community includes membership on the Frazee-Vergas School Board, Detroit Lakes Rotary, Jaycees, and Shriners Club. Mr. George also volunteers at local high schools, mentoring students and lawyers.
Assistant Todd County Attorney Heidi Schultz
Schultz is the assistant attorney for Todd County, where she prosecutes adult criminal cases of all levels. She was previously a partner at Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig. Jacobson Schultz Cass, Pa. Schultz also served as assistant district attorney in Douglas, Olmsted, and St. Louis counties. She worked for the honorable Mark A. Munger.
Schultz serves on the board of directors of Alexandria Dollars for Scholars and the Alexandria Figure Skating Club. She was previously a board member of the United Way of Douglas & Pope Counties and a former member of the Douglas County Domestic Violence Task Force. Schultz also served on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd
Judd, who was elected mayor of the city of 42,400 residents in 2018 and began his tenure on January 7, 2019, would have to resign if he is selected to serve as judge.
The mayor is also the director of Justice and Inclusion at the Minnesota State Community and Technical College at Moorhead, and an additional instructor at Minnesota State University at Moorhead.
Judd previously served as the District Attorney General, Associate Attorney for Clay County, and had his own law firm called Judd Law.
These positions gave him experience handling criminal, youth and child protection cases, according to a press release announcing the three finalists on Wednesday, December 23rd.
Judd, a former Fargo resident, was also a member of the North Dakota Federal District Court’s Criminal Justice Act Panel, where he represented federal clients in need. Judd’s involvement in the community includes board memberships for the West Central Initiative, Fercho Fargo-Moorhead’s YMCA, the Scott Tobolt Foundation, and Spuds TV. He is also a volunteer soccer coach for FM Athletics Youth Football and a member of the Minnesota Education Policy Fellowship.
Dan Mahli, Moorhead’s city manager, said he understood that Judd would have to step down as mayor if he were to receive the appointment. The city council would then likely appoint a provisional mayor until a special election could be held.
The three candidates were recommended by the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection, which selects finalists for vacancies in all 10 judicial districts of the state.
The Seventh Ward vacancy came in mid-November when the retirement of Judge Barbara Hanson, who also had her chambers in Fergus Falls, was announced.
Requests for replacement were due by December 7th. The selection committee stated that when filling positions, lawyers who are “fair, experienced and civic” must be sought.
Qualifications, by law according to the commission, require integrity, maturity, health, legal temperament, legal knowledge, skills, experience and community service.