BEMIDJI – Four individuals have been named candidates for appointment to an opening in Minnesota’s Ninth Judicial District.
Three of the candidates – Eric Schieferdecker, Christopher Strandlie and Judge Korey Wahwassuck – all have connections to the immediate area. A fourth, Jana Austad, is a Brainerd attorney.
The judicial vacancy was created when Judge John P. Smith was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The seat will be chambered at Walker in Cass County.
According to a press release from Gov. Mark Dayton’s office:
Eric Schieferdecker is an assistant attorney general for the State of Minnesota, and primarily prosecutes murder, drug, sexual predator civil commitment, and implied consent cases in the ninth and seventh judicial districts.
He previously was Beltrami County’s chief assistant county attorney. He is a Students First mentor, and board member and vice chairman of the Sexual Assault Program of Beltrami, Cass, and Hubbard Counties.
Strandlie, the Cass County attorney, serves as the chief prosecutor for the county and legal advisor for Cass County.
He previously was a partner at Kimball and Strandlie Law Office, handling real estate, family law, probate, and criminal-defense cases. He is a 17-year veteran and president of the Walker Volunteer Fire Department and vice president of the Walker Area Youth Hockey Association.
Wahwassuck is an associate judge of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Court. She helped found and now presides over the Leech Lake-Cass County-Itasca County Wellness Courts, the first joint tribal-state jurisdiction courts in the nation.
She previously was a tribal attorney for the Leech Lake Band and a solo practitioner in Missouri and Kansas. She also has served as an adjunct instructor at the Leech Lake Tribal College.
Austad is the managing attorney in the Brainerd Regional Office of the Minnesota Public Defender, where, in addition to her caseload, she manages assistant public defenders in Aitkin, Cass, and Crow Wing counties.
Previously, she was an attorney at Kief, Fuller, Baer and Wallner, Ltd., practicing general litigation with a concentration in workers’ compensation, township law, and family law. She is a volunteer with the Sharing Break Soup Kitchen and the Lord of Life Lutheran Church.
An announcement of the eventual appointment is expected in the following weeks once the interview process is complete.
Minnesota’s Ninth Judicial District consists of Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau counties.