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


May 16, 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 three candidates for consideration to fill a vacancy in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District. The vacancy occurred upon the retirement of the Honorable Regina M. Chu. The seat will be chambered in Minneapolis in Hennepin County.

Erin Eldridge: Ms. Eldridge is an assistant attorney general at the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, where she works in the Criminal Division prosecuting homicide and criminal sexual conduct offenses. She previously served as a special assistant United States attorney in the District of Nebraska and the Northern District of Iowa, where she prosecuted domestic violence and sexual assault crimes committed on Nebraska’s Native American reservations. Ms. Eldridge was previously a clerk for Judge Kevin Lund of Minnesota’s Third Judicial District, Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel on the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and Judge Donovan Frank on the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Her community involvement includes volunteering for free meal programs and community organizations focused on alleviating hunger and food insecurity. 

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 Judges 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 has also served as an adjunct professor 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 Law School and as the Interim-Director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. In addition to his legal work, Referee 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.