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Cook County assistant attorney runs for top spot

Molly Hicken

Assistant Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken announced Friday that she will seek to replace her boss, embattled County Attorney Tim Scannell, when his term expires at the end of the year.

Hicken, who has already assumed some of the duties of the county attorney while Scannell is on medical leave and facing criminal charges, became the first person to announce that she will run for the position in the November general election.

“I think it’s important that the county attorney elected in 2014 is able to do the job,” Hicken told the News Tribune. “Our office has had some challenges in the last couple years, and I’ve had to be pretty adaptable in my job.”

Hicken, 35, has been with the county attorney’s office since 2007, initially working primarily as a prosecutor. However, she has seen her role in the office increase since Scannell was shot in December 2011 by a man who had just been convicted on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Hicken and a courtroom bailiff helped subdue shooter Daniel Schlienz and wrestle away the weapon that was used to shoot Scannell and a trial witness. Hicken later received the Medal of Commendation from the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and the Community Service Award from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for her actions that day.

Scannell, 48, has been on medical leave for undisclosed reasons since last October. That same month, he was indicted by a grand jury on two charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct over an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl in August 2012.

In her current role, Hicken is not only responsible for criminal prosecution, but also advising and representing the Board of Commissioners and all county departments.

“As our office has recovered from the shooting, we’ve had to be flexible in the things we do, and I’ve been able to fill in for Tim when he’s been out of the office,” Hicken said. “Because of the unique circumstances, I’ve had an opportunity to get a taste of what it would be like to be county attorney.”

Scannell, who has served as county attorney since 2007, has remained silent on his future. Dozens of county residents have protested outside the courthouse and numerous websites have popped up calling for his resignation. He is scheduled to stand trial on the criminal charges in July.

Hicken is a graduate of Cornell College and the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College. She lives in Lutsen with her husband and 1-year-old twins.

The filing period for county attorney runs from May 20 to June 3.