News Item
Lyonel Norris, M. Jacqueline Regis, David Piper appointed to 4th Judicial District Court

Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today, Governor Mark Dayton announced the appointments of Lyonel Norris, M. Jacqueline Regis and David Piper as District Court Judges in Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District.    

Governor Dayton said, “I am proud to appoint Mr. Lyonel Norris, Ms. Jacqueline Regis and Mr. David Piper to be judges on the 4th Judicial District Court.  They are accomplished attorneys, and each brings unique professional experiences to the bench.

“These appointments also bring us closer to a court which reflects the diversity of our community.  I am confident that Mr. Norris, Ms. Regis and Mr. Piper will be excellent additions to the 4th Judicial District Court.”

The 4th Judicial District serves Hennepin County, and is the state’s largest trial court, receiving nearly 800,000 cases each year.  They will be filling three vacancies on the court, following the retirements of The Honorable Patricia L. Belois, The Honorable John J. Sommerville and The Honorable Jack S. Nordby.  

Biographies of each of the newly-appointed judges:

Mr. Lyonel Norris:

Mr. Norris currently serves as Assistant Federal Defender, representing, in all phases of federal criminal prosecutions, indigent individuals charged with federal crimes.  Previously, Norris was the Director of the Office of Equity in the Minnesota Department of Education, Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Minnesota State Public Defender and Law Clerk for the Honorable Michael J. Davis.  He has extensive experience teaching in law schools, supervising law students in legal clinics and presenting at conferences.

In addition to spending time mentoring young lawyers, Norris has demonstrated his commitment to the community through service, past and present, on several Boards of Directors including: Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, Children’s Law Center, Central Minnesota Legal Services, and the American Youth Work Center in Washington, D.C.  Norris also has been a member of the Hospital Review Board at Anoka Metropolitan Regional Treatment Center and a member of the Minneapolis Advisory Council on Disabilities.

Norris earned his B.A. from Carleton College in 1977 and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1983.  He resides in Minneapolis.

Ms. M. Jacqueline Regis:

Ms. Regis, former Minnesota Women Lawyers’ President2000-2001, is currently Senior Associate General Counsel at UnitedHealth Group, Inc. where she provides legal services to the Company’s Medicare Advantage business.  Previously, Regis was a member of St. Paul Travelers’ Insurance Companies’ Legal Services Department, and she also has served as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General. Additionally, between 1990 and 1996, Regis was adjunct professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law.  

Regis has served two elected terms as a delegate from Hennepin County to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates between 1999 and 2003.  In 2002, Regis received a Presidential three-year appointment to serve as Commissioner on the ABA Commission on Ethnic and Racial Diversity.  She served on the Board of Governors of the Minnesota State Bar Association and between 1996 and 1997 as Co-Chair of the MSBA Women in the Legal Profession Task Force.  In 2003, Regis was appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court to serve on its Advisory Committee to Review the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Rules of the Board of Judicial Standards.  In 2010, Regis served as co-chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.  Regis currently serves on the board of the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of the Alliance Francaise.  

Regis earned her B.A. from Principia College in 1975, and her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1977.  She resides in Golden Valley.

Mr. David Piper:

Mr. Piper brings extensive family court experience with him to the 4th District Court; he currently serves as a Hennepin County family court referee.  He created both the current family court public defender program and the public defender conflicts panel.  He has served as both the first chief family court public defender and the first chief of the family court public defender conflicts panel.  Piper played a key role in initiating the Self Help Center, an arm of the court that assists self-represented parties.  

Prior to his family court experience, he concentrated his private practice in the specialty courts where he represented children, parents and guardians ad litem in juvenile court and disadvantaged clients in probate court.   He initiated a program of volunteer lawyers to serve as guardians ad litem in family court. He was also a member of the Federal Public Defender Panel and the Misdemeanor Defense Panel.

Piper formerly served on the boards of Chrysalis, TPT, the Headwaters Fund, and the Volunteer Lawyers Network.  He was one of the first volunteer attorneys at the Children’s Law Center, and represented numerous clients for Chrysalis, the Volunteer Lawyers Network, and the Minnesota Aids Project.   He currently serves on the board of the Neighborhood Involvement Program and is a volunteer for the Minnesota Aids Project. He also only missed one or two years of walking in the annual AIDS Walk, and he has participated in two bicycle rides from Minneapolis to Chicago for AIDS organizations.

Piper graduated from Whittier College in 1975, and from Hamline Law School in 1979.  He lives in South Minneapolis.