Minnesota Judicial Branch
If an effort to promote diversity, equity and inclusion is anywhere near State District Court Judge Juanita C. Freeman, it’s a good bet she will be part of it. No matter how full her schedule is, Freeman, a judge in the Tenth Judicial District in Washington County, seems to find time to take on yet another committee membership, additional volunteer work or an opportunity to speak to students around the Twin Cities.
She became the first Black woman to serve in Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District (and first Black judge in Washington County) when she was appointed to the court by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2018. She volunteered to serve as the co-chair of the Tenth Judicial District’s Equal Justice Committee, which works to eliminate bias from court operations, promote equal access to the court, and inspire a high level of trust and public confidence in the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Freeman also is a member of the statewide Committee for Equality and Justice.
She previously served on the Community Outreach Committee and helped gather information about criminal warrant walk-in programs that allow community members to resolve outstanding warrants. She collaborated to create a warrant walk-in program in Washington County and included all this information in a statewide tool kit so that Equal Justice Committees throughout the state had a template to create similar programs.
“I’m a firm believer in making the world better than I found it,” she said. She believes a lot of that important work needs to be done with young people, which is why she enjoys speaking to high school and young adults about the judicial system.
“I used to be them — a young person of color making my way through a world that has had historical discrimination and numerous examples of racism,” she said. “If we can break down barriers between the justice system and our young people, hopefully that will make future generations more trusting of the system — and maybe some will go into public service work to give back to their community as I try to.”
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