Commission on Judicial Selection recommends 4th Judicial District candidates to Gov. Walz


February 15, 2022

Claire Lancaster




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

[ST. PAUL, MN] – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced today that it is recommending four candidates for consideration to fill two vacancies in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District. One of the vacancies occurred upon the retirement of the Honorable Martha A. Holton Dimick, and the other vacancy will occur upon the retirement of the Honorable Elizabeth V. Cutter in March 2022. These seats are chambered in Minneapolis in Hennepin County.

Amber Brennan: Ms. Brennan is Chief of the Firearms and Violent Crime section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. In this role, she supervises prosecutors handling violent crime and firearms cases, oversees local implementation of federal initiatives addressing gun violence, and prosecutes fraud schemes, public corruption, and other federal crimes. Ms. Brennan is also an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she teaches litigation skills. Previously, Ms. Brennan served as an Assistant Hennepin County attorney and as a Minnesota Assistant Attorney General. She has also served as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis. Outside work, Ms. Brennan co-founded a task force to recruit and train volunteer lawyers to represent victims of predatory lending and foreclosure rescue scams. Her community involvement has also included volunteering with Meals on Wheels and youth basketball and football programs at Southwest High School and Pearl Park in Minneapolis.

Keala Ede: Mr. Ede is an Assistant Federal Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender in Minneapolis. He represents clients charged with a wide variety of federal criminal offenses. Mr. Ede previously served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Minnesota Attorney General's Office where he prosecuted both criminal Medicaid fraud and civil consumer fraud. He was also a Judicial Law Clerk for Ret. Justice Steven H. Levinson of the Hawai'i Supreme Court. His community involvement includes volunteering for the Federal Practice Committee, the Federal Court "Open Doors" project, and the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association Scholarship Committee. He also is a community youth sports coach.

Melissa Houghtaling: Referee Houghtaling is a District Court Referee in the Civil/Criminal Divisions of the Fourth Judicial District presiding over housing, harassment, and petty misdemeanor cases. She previously worked as a Human Services Judge at the Minnesota Department of Human Services and as a law clerk for the Honorable Bradford Delapena, Joanne Turner, and Thomas Haluska of the Minnesota State Tax Court. Prior to her public service career, Referee Houghtaling was a shareholder and attorney at Heltzer & Houghtaling, P.A. She was an adjunct faculty at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Hamline University, and Inver Hills Community College. Referee Houghtaling is the former chair of the St. Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Commission and the former co-chair of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association. Her community involvement also includes volunteering as a mock trial judge for the MSBA High School Mock Trial Program and serving on the Fourth Judicial District Equal Justice Committee.

Franklin Reed: Referee Reed is a District Court Referee in the Civil/Criminal Divisions of the Fourth Judicial District. He previously served as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis, an Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney, and an Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia. He has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law and as the Interim-Director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. In addition to his legal work, Mr. Reed has traveled throughout Europe, Africa, and Central America to study the human condition as a fellow with the International Leadership Institute and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center. His community involvement includes coaching youth football through the Hopkins Football Program and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. He also serves on the Village Project board of directors, which provides counseling services to families of color.

For more information about the judicial selection process, please visit the Governor’s Judicial Appointments webpage.