Gov. Mark Dayton has tapped Natalie Hudson, a 13-year-veteran of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, to replace retiring Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.
Hudson beat out two other finalists for the job, Margaret Chutich, a fellow appeals court judge who was appointed to the bench by Dayton, and Susan Segal, a former Hennepin County prosecutor who has served as Minneapolis City Attorney since 2008.
“It was an extremely difficult decision. All three were extremely well qualified,” said Dayton, who made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon outside the Supreme Court chambers, where he was flanked by Page, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea and several other Supreme Court justices.
Asked if he was influenced by any of the written decisions Hudson penned while on the Court of Appeals, Dayton responded with a crack. “I haven’t read all 100 published decisions,” he said, pausing a beat, “but I did read the 1,000 unpublished decisions.”
On a more serious note, Dayton cited Hudson’s lengthy tenure on the Court of Appeals as valuable training for service on the Supreme Court. He said he was impressed by Hudson’s letter of application, in which she emphasized the role the Supreme Court plays in fostering both “the perception and reality of justice.”
Dayton also praised Hudson’s “concern for individual rights and concern for the rights of the person against the power of the state.”
In brief remarks, Hudson said she was “incredibly humbled” by the selection to “the court of last resort.”
“I promise to do what I’ve always done as a judge, and that is is to read the record carefully, read the briefs carefully, listen carefully at oral arguments, and most of all, to treat all of those who come before our court with the upmost respect,” said Hudson, who was joined at the podium by her husband, the Rev. Willie Hudson.
A 1982 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, Hudson began her legal career as a staff attorney for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. Following a stint in the private sector (at Robins Kaplan, which was then known as Robins, Zelle, Larson & Kaplan), Hudson worked as an assistant dean at Hamline University School of Law, city attorney (in St. Paul) and as an Assistant Attorney General in the criminal appeals and health licensing divisions.
Hudson was appointed to the Appeals Court by former Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002.
At the announcement, Gildea and Dayton both paid homage to Page.
“We all know he doesn’t like it when we talk about him,” Gildea said. “So if we were to talk to about him, which we’re not going to do, we’d say we’re grateful for his more than 20 years of distinguished service.”