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Stumme named Carlton County judge

Rebekka Stumme

Rebekka Stumme had just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon when her phone started ringing Monday.

Gov. Tim Walz was on the other end. He informed the assistant St. Louis County attorney she was his first judicial appointee.

"It was quite a deal," Stumme said Wednesday, still taking in the moment as she boarded an airplane to fly home.

An attorney experienced in criminal prosecution, public defense and civil law, Stumme will serve as the next 6th Judicial District judge. She will be chambered at the Carlton County Courthouse.

"Her knowledge of the law and commitment to her community will serve the people of Carlton County well," Walz said in a news release announcing his selection.

The appointment was long-awaited for Stumme at Carlton County. She was one of three finalists recommended by the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection, but the changeover in administration significantly slowed the process, with Walz taking office in January.

Stumme fills a vacancy created by the retirement of her former boss, Judge Mark Munger. His seat in Duluth will be filled by Judge Leslie Beiers, who is transferring after nearly five years of hearing cases in Carlton.

But it won't be Stumme's first foray into Carlton County. She spent more than six years working in the courthouse as both a law clerk and a public defender.

A native of tiny Amboy, Minn., about 25 miles south of Mankato, Stumme said Carlton "has always felt like home."

"I'm really excited to get started," she told the News Tribune. "It's nice to know what I'm going to be doing for the next few years — and hopefully for many years."

Stumme, 45, is currently an adult felony prosecutor in the St. Louis County Attorney's Office in Duluth. She previously served as a public defender, a civil litigation attorney at Duluth firm Downs, Reyelts and Bateman, and was a judicial law clerk to Munger.

"It's full circle for Judge Munger and I," she said. "It's pretty special. He's always been a great mentor and a lot of my really serious cases as a prosecutor have ended up in front of him, which is kind of unusual. So he's had a major influence on my legal career."

Stumme cited the diversity of her work background as a driving force in her decision to apply for the judgeship.

"I've seen cases from all sides of the coin, and I think that experience has made me hope that I could someday be the chief decision-maker," she said. "When cases get to the point where judges are making decisions — whether it's a civil case or a sentencing decision — my hope is that experience will make me a really well-rounded judge."

Stumme is also president of the First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center Board and chair of the education committee at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Duluth.

She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth and earned her law degree from Mitchell Hamline College of Law.

"I was impressed by Rebekka's experience and qualifications for this role," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a statement. "She is dedicated to approaching cases with a fair and balanced perspective, and delivering just outcomes for all Minnesotans, especially our most vulnerable."

Stumme was one of the first lawyers hired by St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin after he took office in 2011. The position has given her the chance to work alongside her husband, Nate Stumme, another prosecutor in the office.

"Rebekka is strong, fearless and passionate in her legal endeavors," Rubin wrote in a letter of recommendation. "Through it all she maintains a strong work/family balance which I consider to be admirable."

Stumme is the third local judge to be selected from the staff of the county attorney's office in the past five years.

"Obviously I couldn't be happier for Rebekka and her family," Rubin said. "She has been and will continue to be a credit to our profession."

The 6th Judicial District includes 16 judges at the six courthouses in St. Louis, Carlton, Cook and Lake counties. Judges must live within the district and appear on the ballot in all four counties.

Stumme will join Judge Robert Macaulay, who has served since 1995, at the Carlton County Courthouse. There was no immediate timeline for her to take office.

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