News Item
Wilhelmina Wright Sworn in as 90th Supreme Court Justice

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012

Wilhelmina M. Wright was sworn in as the 90th justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Tuesday, October 16. Justice Wright was appointed to the Court by Governor Mark Dayton to replace retired Associate Justice Helen M. Meyer. 

Dr. Lillian P. Wright (center) holds the Bible for her daughter, Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright (left), as former Associate Justice Helen M. Meyer (right) administers the oath. 

Ceremony speakers included Governor Dayton; Robert Enger, President, Minnesota State Bar Association; Katherian D. Roe, Federal Public Defender, District of Minnesota; Michael J. Davis, United State District Court Chief Judge, District of Minnesota; and Thomas J. Kalitowski, Judge, Minnesota Court of Appeals.

In a statement, Justice Wright said, “I am honored to serve the people of Minnesota as an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. I will work hard to ensure that Minnesotans continue to have a judiciary that is committed to fairness and justice for all who entrust us with their most important affairs. It is my good fortune to devote my life’s work to preserving and to promoting the values of freedom and equal justice –values that I believe in so deeply.”

Justice Wright comes to the state's highest court from the Court of Appeals, to which she was appointed by Governor Jesse Ventura in 2002. Previously, she served as a trial judge for the Ramsey County District Court in Saint Paul. She has served as a member of the Minnesota Judicial Council, the Minnesota Judicial Branch Public Trust and Confidence Committee, and the Minnesota State Bar Association Task Force on the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Justice Wright graduated with honors in Literature from Yale University in 1986. She received her juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1989.

Prior to joining the bench, Justice Wright was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, where she represented the United States in complex economic fraud cases and violent crime cases in the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She was awarded the United States Department of Justice Special Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Department of Justice Director's Award for Public Service in 2000.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney's office in 1995, Justice Wright practiced with the Washington, DC, law firm of Hogan & Hartson, LLP. In the education and litigation practice groups, she primarily represented school districts across the nation seeking to enhance educational opportunities for public school students. After law school, Justice Wright was a law clerk for the Honorable Damon J. Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Justice Wright is active in her community, serving on the William Mitchell College Law Board of Trustees, the Saint Paul Academy Board of Trustees, the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Advisory Council, and the Minnesota Lawyer Advisory Board.  She has previously served on the Mardag Foundation Board of Directors, the Ramsey County Community Corrections Advisory Committee, the Federal Bar Association of Minnesota Board of Directors, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Board of Directors, the Girl Scout Council of Saint Croix Valley Board of Directors, the Hamline University Women in Leadership Advisory Council, the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, and the Saint Paul Public Schools Graduate Standards Advisory Committee. Justice Wright is a member of the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, the Minnesota Women Lawyers Advisory Committee, and the National Association of Women Judges.

Justice Wright was elected to the American Law Institute in 2008. She received the Myra Bradwell Award in 2006 from the Minnesota Women Lawyers, the Lena O. Smith Achievement Award from the Black Women Lawyers Network in 2004, the B. Warren Hart Award for Public Service from the Saint Paul Jaycees in 2001, and the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans Award in 2000.

Justice Wright has served with International Bridges to Justice in Geneva, Switzerland, as a consultant on criminal justice training in the development and application of the rule of law.  She has taught Ethical Leadership in Litigation as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. She also has lectured at graduate schools in Belgium and Switzerland on judicial selection and judicial accountability in the United States.