Two Area Lawyers Up For Judgeship

Two Area Lawyers Up For Judgeship Click to Enlarge Photo: Submitted

(KNSI) - Two area prosecutors are among three nominated to be a judge in Stearns County.

The Commission on Judicial Selection says they're looking to fill a vacancy that will occur when the Honorable Frederick L. Grunke retires from his Seventh District judgeship chambered in St. Cloud.

They are Stearns County Senior Assistant Attorney Matthew Engelking and Benton County Senior Assistant Attorney Karl Schmidt.

Engelking's caseload primarily consists of child abuse, sexual assault, and jury trial experience in a wide variety of matters.

Previously, he was a criminal defense attorney at Engelking Law Office, while doing pro bono work in assisting victims of domestic violence.

His community involvement includes the Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center Steering & Administrative Committee, Stearns County Domestic Violence Partnership and Chair of the Child Trauma Task Force Subcommittee.

Schmidt's work focuses on prosecuting adult felony cases, as well as all extradition, fugitive from justice matters, and detainers under the Interstate Compact.

Previously, Schmidt was an assistant public defender prosecuting adult felonies, gross misdemeanors, juvenile delinquencies, and child protection.

Schmidt’s community involvement includes 18 years on both the Benton County Benefits Advisory Committee and Benton County Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council, as well as volunteering for Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity.

The third candidate is Hennepin County Senior Assistant Attorney Tara Ferguson Lopez.

Lopez represents the Health and Human Services Department and handles cases involving child protection and welfare matters.

Previously, Lopez was a Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney in the Adult Prosecution Division, where she supervised a team of trial attorneys and oversaw domestic assault prosecutions.

Lopez has also worked as an Assistant County Attorney in the Mille Lacs County Attorney's Office and in private practice.

Lopez serves on the St. Cloud Public Library Board, the 4th Judicial District Domestic Fatality Review Board, and Family Violence Coordinating Council.

Minnesota’s Seventh Judicial District consists of Becker, Benton, Clay, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd, and Wadena Counties.

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