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Judge Heather Wynn

Breaking the Ice: Judgeship is ‘best job in the world’

Name: Heather Wynn

Title: Judge, 10th Judicial District

Education: B.A., English writing, Bethel College; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Tenth Judicial District Judge Heather Wynn was in law school when she first thought of serving on the bench.

“I liked the idea of being able to see both sides or all sides of a situation and trying to sort out what’s right or what’s fair,” Wynn said.

Wynn achieved her goal October 2016, when Gov. Mark Dayton appointed her to a judgeship. Her chambers are in Pine City.

“This is the best job in the world,” Wynn said. “I feel lucky every day to come to work.”

Before law school, Wynn worked at an agency that dealt with parents going through the child-protection process. She also has worked in private practice, as a solo practitioner and an assistant Kanabec County attorney.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. If you talk to me about running or a triathlon or where you’ve gone on vacation or a good book that you’ve read I’m always interested in anything like that. I like talking about those things too.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. After I graduated from Bethel I moved to the Hinkley area in Pine County and got a job in the Pine County Probation Office. That was my first experience in the courtroom. In college I had worked part-time during some periods of time and full-time other times for the city of Anoka Police Department. So I developed an interest in the criminal justice system. Then when I worked in probation and started spending time in the courtroom I was kind of jealous of the lawyers. It looked like their jobs were really interesting. I liked being in the courtroom, so I decided to go to law school.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I love to read. I’ll read anything from the back of a cereal box to whatever random magazine comes in. I’m part of two book clubs. I’m reading a book by Alice Hoffman, “The Museum of Extraordinary Things.” and a book by Susan Lackey called, “Life’s Too Short to Go So F—— Slow.”

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. I do not like intentionally misspelled words, like for advertising purposes when people spell night “n-i-t-e.”

Q. What are your most favorite and least favorite aspects of being a judge?

A. My favorite part is being able to be involved with the people who come before me … and hopefully make that a positive experience regardless of the result.

Even though you see a lot of people it’s kind of an isolating job because you’re not interacting with people on a personal level. It makes it important to nourish and seek out your non-work friendships.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I like to run and do triathlons so that takes up quite a bit of my time because I work out a lot and train. I have two kids so the rest of my time is spent running them around to their activities or doing things with them.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. My current hometown of Pine City, there are lots of state parks close by so I would and frequently do take people to Banning State Park in Sandstone to go hiking or a little farther north to Jay Cooke State Park.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most—and why?

A. I want to be as patient as Judge (Stoney) Hiljus, as smart and quick-witted as Judge (Krista) Martin, as positive as Judge Brigid Dowdal.

Q. What is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture?

A. I’ve always loved the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” There’s a scene at the end that’s beautifully written about light streaming in through courtroom windows. We have windows near the ceiling of our courtroom. The light comes in and sometimes I’m reminded of that passage.

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