~ Judge Edward Toussaint reappointed Chief Judge ~
Saint Paul – Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced the appointment of Judge Heidi S. Schellhas, Judge Francis J. Connolly, and Matthew E. Johnson to three new Minnesota Court of Appeals judgeships. These are new positions created by the 2007 Legislature (2007 Minnesota Laws, Chapter 54, Article 1, Section 4) that take effect on January 1, 2008.
In addition, the Governor announced the reappointment of Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward Toussaint, Jr. to another three-year term as chief judge of the court. Toussaint has been a Court of Appeals Judge since March 1995 and Chief Judge since April 1995.
Schellhas is a District Court Judge in Hennepin County, a position she has held since 1996. She was an attorney and partner with the Rode, Lucas and Schellhas law firm in Edina from 1989 to 1996, sole proprietor of the Heidi S. Schellhas Law Offices in Edina from 1988 to 1989, and a clerk, associate attorney and partner with Carlsen, Greiner and Law in Minneapolis from 1979 to 1988. Schellhas earned her juris doctorate degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul in 1980, and was a staff member for the Law Review. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1975.
“Judge Schellhas brings a great background of both criminal and civil experience from the district court bench to the Court of Appeals,” Governor Pawlenty said. “In addition, she has demonstrated her ability to work well in a collegial environment as a member of the state redistricting panel.”
Schellhas is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Minnesota District Judges Association, Minnesota Women Lawyers, and Hennepin County Bar Association, where she serves on its Nominating Committee. She is chair of the Fourth Judicial District Budget Committee, lead judge of the Fourth Judicial District Domestic Violence Court, chair of its steering committee, and co-chair of its Family Violence Coordinating Council. She previously served as a member of the State of Minnesota Special Redistricting Panel, chair of the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Open Child Protection Hearings, chair of the Fourth Judicial District Gender Fairness Implementation Committee, and a member of the Supreme Court Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption. Schellhas is also an after school tutor with the JABBOK Foundation COOL Youth Center at Calvary Church in Minneapolis.
Schellhas, 53, was born in Milwaukee, and lives in Edina with her husband, Robert Lucas, Jr. They have an adult daughter, Betsy Reinke.
Connolly is a District Court Judge in Hennepin County, a position he has held since 1998, and is currently presiding judge of the civil division. Connolly was associate general counsel with Kraus-Anderson Realty Company from 1994 to 1998, an attorney with Rossini, Nelson and Rossini from 1992 to 1994, an attorney with Dorsey and Whitney from 1987 to 1992, an attorney with Popham, Haik, Schnobrich and Kaufman from 1986 to 1987, and was in the honors program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in Washington, D.C. from 1984 to 1986. Connolly earned a joint degree in law and international studies from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 1984, was on the Dean’s List, and was editor of the International Law Review. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University in New York in 1980, was awarded a New York State Regents Scholarship, and was on the Dean’s List.
“Judge Connolly brings a strong academic background, and significant civil law experience, both as a lawyer and as a trial court judge,” Governor Pawlenty said. “His background and professional experience will serve him well as an appellate judge.”
Connolly has been an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law, a Supreme Court-appointed chair of the Judicial Education Subcommittee of the Minnesota State Bar Association Committee on Professionalism, a member of the Minnesota and Hennepin County Bar Associations, the Douglas K. Amdahl Inn of Court, and the Minnesota District Judges Association. He has given presentations at numerous professional association conferences and continuing legal education seminars. He is also a volunteer coach at Convent of the Visitation High School Mock Trial Team in Mendota Heights, and is a mentor with the University of St. Thomas Law School.
Connolly, 49, was born in Yonkers, New York, and lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Meg. They have three children, Thomas, 21, Robert, 17, and Marguerite, 15.
Johnson is an attorney and shareholder with Halleland, Lewis, Nilan and Johnson in Minneapolis. He has been an attorney with the firm since 2001, and his practice is in commercial and employment litigation, including contractual disputes, business torts, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and employment discrimination. Johnson was an associate attorney with Smith Parker in Minneapolis from 1995 to 2001, an associate attorney with Popham, Haik, Schnobrich and Kaufman in Minneapolis from 1994 to 1995, a law clerk to U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit Judge David R. Hansen from 1993 to 1994, and a law clerk for U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Chief Judge Charles R. Wolle from 1992 to 1993. Johnson earned his juris doctorate degree with honors from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul in 1992, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review, and received the “Student Award of Merit” in 1992. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield in 1985.
“Matt is a person of great intellect and legal abilities who has a passion for the law and justice,” Governor Pawlenty said. “This knowledge and passion, combined with his excellent writing skills, will make him an asset to the Court of Appeals.”
Johnson is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, where he served on its Judicial Elections Task Force; Federal Bar Association; Hennepin and Ramsey County Bar Associations; Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies; and the Warren E. Burger Inn of Court. He is also a member of the Second District Bar Ethics Committee, St. Paul Civil Service Commission, Legal Access Point Project, and is a past chair of the board of directors of Lighthouse Academy of Nations, Inc., a charter school in Minneapolis focused on children of immigrant and refugee families in grades nine to 12.
Johnson, 44, was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and lives in St. Paul with his wife, Elizabeth Thimmesh and their three children, Noah, 7, Isaac, 5, and Theodore, 1.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of trial courts other than conciliation courts except for appeals in election contests, convictions of murder in the first degree and appeals from the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals and the Tax Court, which are appealed directly to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals currently consists of 16 judges; eight judges who serve at-large, and eight judges who are initially appointed – one each – from the state’s eight congressional districts. On January, 1, 2008, the Court of Appeals will consist of a total of 19 judges, 11 of whom are at-large. Seventy-seven people submitted their résumés for consideration for these judgeships.