Two attorneys with connections to Coon Rapids have been appointed 10th Judicial District judges by Gov. Mark Dayton.
They are Coon Rapids City Attorney Stoney Hiljus, who will be chambered in Mora in Kanabec County, and Sheridan Hawley, who maintains a solo law practice with her office in Coon Rapids.
“Ms. Hawley and Mr. Hiljus stood out from an excellent group of candidates,” Dayton said.
“Their experience, perspective and commitment to public service will serve them well on the bench.”
Hiljus, a resident of Cambridge, has been Coon Rapids’ city attorney for a little over five years.
He was hired to replace then-City Attorney Tammi Fredrickson when she was appointed the 10th Judicial Court bench, chambered in Anoka, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Hiljus, who was born and raised in the Cambridge area, was city administrator in Cambridge before becoming city attorney for Coon Rapids.
Before that he was a Cambridge City Council member and worked as the Chief Deputy Isanti County Attorney and as the director of legal services for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Hiljus has served on various task forces, including the Anoka County Domestic Violence Task Force, the Minnesota Association of City Attorneys conference planning committee and was recently elected an officer of the Association of City Attorneys.
He received a B.S., magna cum laude, from Minnesota State University in Mankato in 1992 and a law degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul in 1995. Additionally, Hiljus has been an adjunct professor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and is an instructor with the Coon Rapids Police Citizens Academy.
He has been a coach or judge in the Minnesota State Bar Association high school mock trial competition since 1997.
Hiljus will replace Judge Timothy Bloomquist in Mora. Bloomquist retired in January.
In fact, Hiljus will be the only judge chambered in Mora. Kanabec County is small with only a population of 16,000, he said.
This was the second time that he had applied to be a judge, but it has always been a career aspiration since he was a clerk for a judge in his first job out of law school, according to Hiljus.
“I have been in public service all my career and this is the height of public service,” Hiljus said.
“This is a good fit for me in terms of personality and demeanor because it involves problem solving.”
“I hope to have a positive impact on the lives of the people that come before me.”
Hiljus does not know yet when he will start his new job, but he expects it will be within a month, he said.
Hiljus and his wife, who is a state public defender in juvenile cases in Isanti County, have three children, a son who is a 10th-grader at Cambridge High School, and two daughters, one in seventh-grade and the other in fifth-grade.
According to Coon Rapids City Manager Matt Fulton, a search has begun for Hiljus’ successor as city attorney.
He expects it to take from 60 to 90 days, Fulton said.
Coon Rapids’ in-house attorney’s office has two assistant city attorneys – Doug Johnson and Dave Brodie.
Hawley will succeed retired Judge Karla Hancock in Sherburne County, with chambers in Elk River. Hancock retired in January.
In her practice in Coon Rapids, Hawley represents clients in child protection and family law matters in district and appellate courts.
She also conducts alternative dispute resolutions in juvenile, civil and family cases.
Prior to this, Hawley was an attorney with Walling, Berg & Debele, and has provided contract services to the 10th District public defender’s office.
According to a press release from Dayton’s office, Hawley coordinated the early neutral evaluation program in Anoka County within the first year of its inception and managed a program that aims to resolve criminal cases more efficiently.
Hawley earned a B.A. from North Central University in Minneapolis in 1988 and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, in 1992.
In addition, Hawley is a member of the Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility Board and is secretary of the Board of Mediation Services for Anoka County.
She is actively involved with Eagle Brook Church’s junior high program and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
Hawley resides in Hugo with her family.
Minnesota’s 10th Judicial District comprises Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne, Washington and Wright counties.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]