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On Jan. 16, newly appointed Court of Appeals Judge Susan Segal took the oath of office from her predecessor, retired Judge Jill Faskamp Halbrooks. Segal’s husband, MMB Commissioner Myron Frans, watched in the background. (File photo: Kevin Featherly)

Segal named Minnesota Court of Appeals chief judge

Barely five months after donning the robe, Susan Segal has been named to replace Edward Cleary as chief judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Segal, wife of Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans, will fill out the remainder of Cleary’s term as chief judge. That term expires in 2022.

Gov. Tim Walz announced her appointment on Monday evening.

Segal, who left her job as Minneapolis City Attorney after Walz appointed her to the court in November 2019, was invested in a St. Paul ceremony on Jan. 16.

“We are living in divisive times—a time when our basic institutions are under challenge in pernicious ways,” she said that day. “But also in positive ways.”

Segal becomes just the second woman to serve as chief judge in the Court of Appeals’ 36-year history. She is its 59th judge overall.

“Judge Segal has not only risen to the challenge in her time on the Court of Appeals and as the Minneapolis City Attorney,” Walz said in a press release Monday, “she’s demonstrated her strengths as a creative problem-solver, a mentor and a passionate advocate for justice.”

During her January investiture speech, Segal quoted a mentor, D.C. District Court of Appeals Senior Judge Harry T. Edwards. Segal had worked as his research assistant when Edwards was a Michigan State University College of Law instructor, and they spoke shortly after her appointment to the court.

Edwards emphasized the importance of collegiality, Segal said, defining it as “the ability to listen, be open-minded, engage in active debate, disagree in good faith and with respect for each other’s views—will lead to the best decisions.”

“And that’s what we have here in Minnesota,” Segal said.

Segal served for 12 years as Minneapolis city attorney, managing an office of 110 employees and overseeing prosecution of more than 15,000 adult misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors annually.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey credited Segal with successfully defending new city minimum-wage and paid sick leave policies. He said her office performed pioneering work advancing criminal-justice reforms, including a first-in-the-state alternative to cash bail.

“The dictionary would turn up short on superlatives to describe Susan Segal’s work,” Frey said as she was leaving that job.

She was previously a senior attorney at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, and worked as a partner at Gray Plant Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A. She also practiced for several years with her own law firm.

“Judge Segal has led a distinguished career both in public service and the private sector,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who also was quoted in Monday’s press release.

“In her many roles, she has been unshakably compassionate, innovative and principled,” Flanagan said. “She will make an excellent chief judge on the Court of Appeals.”

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