Commission on Judicial Selection recommends 2nd Judicial District candidates to Gov. Walz


April 26, 2022

Claire Lancaster




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


[ST. PAUL, MN] – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced today that it is recommending three candidates for consideration to fill a vacancy in Minnesota’s Second Judicial District. The vacancy will occur upon the retirement of the Honorable Robert A. Awsumb. The seat will be chambered in St. Paul in Ramsey County.

Maria Mitchell: Ms. Mitchell is an assistant county attorney in Ramsey County, where she serves as the director of the Youth Justice and Wellness Division, which handles juvenile delinquency, truancy, and educational neglect matters. She previously served as an assistant public defender in Hennepin County in the Adult Criminal Division and as a law clerk to the Honorable Tanya M. Bransford in the Fourth Judicial District. Ms. Mitchell’s community involvement includes serving on the board of Women’s Advocates, a domestic violence shelter and advocacy organization in St. Paul. She previously served as a trustee for the Sheltering Arms Foundation and president of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

Jennifer Verdeja: Ms. Verdeja is an assistant county attorney in Ramsey County in the Trial and Pretrial Justice Divisions. Ms. Verdeja prosecutes felony-level crimes, focusing on criminal sexual conduct, homicides, and assaults. She also serves on the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force and the Second District Ethics Committee. Ms. Verdeja previously worked as an assistant county attorney in Anoka County and an assistant public defender and community corrections worker for Ramsey County. Ms. Verdeja’s community involvement includes serving as a judge for the Urban Debate League, a volunteer with the Cretin-Derham Hall Parents’ Association, and a youth coach in St. Paul.

Der Yang: Ms. Yang is the founder of Village Lawyer, a general practice firm with emphasis on family law and criminal defense located in the Hmong Village on St. Paul’s East Side. She is also an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she teaches civil dispute resolution, civil procedure, and family law. Ms. Yang was previously an assistant public defender in Stearns County and a special public defender in St. Louis County. Ms. Yang serves as chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library. She is also a volunteer attorney for the Volunteer Lawyer’s Network and a youth mentor with the Yang Wameng Association of Minnesota. Ms. Yang serves as a competition brief and moot court judge at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and the University of Minnesota Law School.

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