Our newest Municipal Court Judge appointed by Governor Quie, Deborah Hedlund, has fulfilled her uncle’s prophesy during her childhood, of a future judicial appointment—"All Deborahs should be judges because the Deborah in the Bible was a judge. So why don’t you grow up and become a judge?"
Deborah Hedlund joined 17 other Municipal Court Judges in Hennepin County on November 5, 1980, when Chief Judge Eugene Minenko presided over her swearing-in ceremony. Her new colleagues on the Municipal and District Court benches joined her family and friends in the celebration. Deborah’s father, Delmer Hedlund, robed his family’s first judge.
Becoming a judge is the most logical step in Deborah’s professional development. Being the first female in various educational endeavors became commonplace in Deborah’s life. While at Minnehaha Academy, she was the first female Senator sent to the National Congresses held for National Forensic League debaters. At the University of Minnesota Law School, from which she graduated in 1972, she excelled in endeavors such as moot court, where, under the direction of Professor Robert Morris, she was the only woman at Regional Moot Court Competitions.
With her strong social conscience, developed through inner-city Minneapolis schooling and a year of teaching in a violence-prone Kansas City, Missouri, high school where "something wild happened every day," Deborah wanted to become a public defender "in order to right all of the wrongs in our society." However, due to a quirk in staffing, Deborah ended up interning as a prosecutor in the Minneapolis City Attorney’s office. With the supervision of a staff attorney, on her first day Deborah had to try, on a moment’s notice, an appealed jury case.
The trial involved cases for charges of simple assault and breach of peace arising out of a University of Minnesota employee strike. The defendants if convicted were to serve a 5-year jail sentence for destruction of draft records. Past Hennepin County Bar President, Judge Ed Parker presided. Despite the shocking, irreverent, profanity-ridden behavior of the pro-se defendants who threw books at Judge Parker and wrestled with the bailiffs, and the "Prosecutor Persecutes Our Heroes" headlines of the Rolling Stone Magazine, Deborah survived. Today Deborah reflects, "How could I help but love litigation after the excitement of that first case?"
Later she had the opportunity to serve as a Minnesota public defender for misdemeanors. After handling more than 400 court cases, she began private practice in Minneapolis.
In 1974, the Kimberly Clark Corporation headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, offered her a General Counsel’s position. For this international corporation, Deborah supervised lawyers in 35 countries and Federal litigation which included both criminal and civil matters filed by Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission. Later, in her never-ending quest to build her litigation skills, Deborah joined the Minnetonka City Attorney’s Office. In 1976, she was appointed the City Attorney of Minnetonka. There she advised the City Council, Boards and Commissioners, City Manager and other City department heads. Additionally, she litigated civil matters in Hennepin County District Court and the Minnesota Supreme Court concerning condemnation, zoning and planning, labor relations, municipal liability, licensing, and construction contracts.
A testimonial to her high degree of competence comes from William P. Hise, both a Minnetonka City Councilman and Assistant General Counsel for the Dayton Hudson Corporation.
"For the past three years I have been in a rather unusual position for a lawyer—looking to another lawyer for legal advice. But not once in that three- year period have I been the least bit uncomfortable because Debbie has consistently provided our City Council with excellent counsel and advice. Her appointment by Governor Quie is testimony to her legal competence in the wide variety of areas of the law which touch municipal government. I know all of the Council will miss her good and practical counsel, and I know I will miss her."
Less than two years ago, NBC Nightly News selected Deborah Hedlund as its national example of a successful professional woman who can both raise a family and excel in her profession. After a week’s worth of filming at her Excelsior, Minnesota home, Deborah and her family were viewed by millions.
At that time her family included two children, daughter Lisl who is now 4 l/2 years old and son Jedidiah who is now 3 years old. In May of 1979, another son, 19-month-old Alejandro, was adopted because Deborah in her typical generous manner responded to her parents’ relay radio message from the jungles of Ecuador about a newly born boy who had been abandoned on an air strip, "Send me any stray children you encounter." With her persistence and camping out in the U.S. Immigration Offices, Deborah was successful in getting her new son of Mayan Indian descent in just 2 1/2 months.
Born and raised in Minneapolis and its suburbs, Deborah is one of five children of Delmer and Ruth Hedlund. Her sisters and brothers include Rebecca Jordan who works for Child Protection in the Hennepin County Welfare Department, Police Sergeant Bennhard Hedlund in Blaine, Priscilla Hoppe who set up blood banks all over the world for the Food & Drug Administration, and Cameron Hedlund who has taught physical education and manages a boarding stable in Mound, Minnesota.
If she has free time in her busy schedule, Deborah likes to play tennis. She is also adept at other outdoor activities such as snow and water skiing. Recently, with her daughter, Deborah began riding horses for the first time since she was 19 years old.
Judge Hedlund looks forward to continuing her "love of litigation" from the other side of the bench. "My most exciting experiences have been in the Hennepin Courts. I have a very active interest in being involved in helping it be one of the finest court systems in the United States."
With Deborah’s record of achievements, there is no doubt that she will contribute significantly to the Hennepin County judicial system. Congratulations Judge Hedlund!