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Judge Wilhelmina Wright to retire next year; was state's first Black woman to serve as federal judge

Morning headlines from Nov. 30, 2023
Morning headlines from Nov. 30, 2023 03:44

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Judge Wilhelmina Wright, who was Minnesota's first Black woman to serve as a federal judge, has announced she will retire from the bench early next year.

Wright announced Thursday that she would be retiring Feb. 15, 2024. She has held the position since 2016, after serving as a state district court judge, an appellate court judge and a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

"I have so appreciated my tenure as a federal trial judge since my appointment by President Obama. The work has been challenging and rewarding. I have enjoyed working closely with my terrific staff and my dedicated colleagues. Ensuring justice for all has been the goal of my career and I have worked every day for justice in this remarkable job," Wright said in a statement. "Now, after a long career in public service, I have decided that the time is right to focus on other ways to serve. My husband has retired, and I am also looking forward to spending more time with him and with our daughter."

Born in Virginia, Wright attended Yale for her undergraduate degree before graduating from law school at Harvard.

"In 1995, I had the easiest decision of my career: whether to hire Mimi Wright as an Assistant U.S. Attorney before anyone else could snap her up. I watched with awe as she surmounted all barriers to serve with distinction in an unprecedented four judicial offices," former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug said. "In Judge Wright, intelligence, integrity, and grace come together."

Wright was reportedly among the people on President Joe Biden's shortlist when he was tasked with choosing the nomination to fill former Justice Stephen Breyer's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. That seat ultimately went to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

"On behalf of the federal court in Minnesota, I want to thank Judge Wright for her outstanding service to the people of Minnesota and the nation. It has been a great honor to serve with her," Chief Judge Patrick J. Schiltz said. "Judge Wright is exceptionally talented, and she has a well-earned reputation as a fair, reasonable, and dedicated judge. All of us federal judges have been privileged to work with her during the latest chapter of her extraordinary career."

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