By Kristen Miller
Meeker County Attorney Stephanie Beckman will soon serve the county from a different view of the courtroom the bench.
It was announced Oct. 26 that Governor Mark Dayton appointed Beckman as Minnesota’s Eighth Judicial District Court Judge.
“I’m stunned and honored,” said the Litchfield resident who has worked nearly seven years in Meeker County.
The appointment comes following the retirement of the Honorable Steven E. Drange, who retired in June, but has stayed on as a retired judge through mid-October. There were two years remaining of his six-year term.
Judge Kathryn Smith from Kandiyohi County has been filling in until Beckman takes the bench; when remains undetermined.
The process of appointing a district court judge is based on an application process by eligible candidates who are licensed attorneys.
The Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection is created for the purpose of soliciting judicial candidates, evaluating applicants and recommending nominees to the Governor for appointment.
The Governor also appointed Thomas Van Hon as the second Eighth Judicial District Court Judge in Chippewa County in Montevideo. Van Hon practices law in Fairfax and will be replacing the Honorable Paul A. Nelson.
“As accomplished attorneys and dedicated public servants, Stephanie Beckman and Thomas Van Hon have demonstrated that they will serve the Eighth Judicial District with excellence,” said Governor Dayton in a statement released Oct. 26. “I thank them for their willingness to serve, and wish them very best as they take on these new roles.”
“It was surreal to meet the governor,” Beckman said, adding that she was up against some excellent candidates, who would also make great judges, including Rodney Hanson of Willmar and Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson.
As Meeker County Attorney, Beckman is responsible for the civil work and criminal prosecutions. Her work has included handling criminal sexual conduct cases, child support, employment law, and governmental law.
Beckman previously served as assistant Meeker County attorney. She also worked as assistant Stearns County attorney within the civil division.
She received a bachelor of arts degree, magna cum laude, from Hamline University in Saint Paul in 1999 and in 2003, earned a juris doctor degree from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul.
Beckman is a guardian and trustee for developmentally delayed adults and is an executive board member of the Minnesota Alliance on Crime. She also maintains memberships with the local library and hospital boards, and is a mock trial judge with the Minnesota State Bar Association.
“I’m looking forward to serving the public in a different way through the judicial system,” Beckman commented.
Since judges are elected positions, Beckman will be on the ballot in the next general election following one year on the bench, explained Timothy Ostby, district court administrator.
Beckman will provide more details to the Meeker County Board of Commissioners, ncluding information on the process of appointing an interim county attorney to replace her, during the board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 8:30 a.m. This position would then be up for election in 2014.