HomeVietnamese AmericanMinnesota to swear in first Vietnamese American state court judge

Minnesota to swear in first Vietnamese American state court judge

Minnesota will swear in its first Vietnamese American state court judge today.

Viet-Hanh Winchell will be sworn in as a state judge at the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater, Minnesota, Pioneer Press reports. She will preside over the 10th Judicial District, which according to Minnesota Lawyer, encompasses Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne, Washington, and Wright counties.

Winchell’s parents fled Vietnam in 1979 with their three children, Pioneer Press reports. They lived at a refugee camp in Thailand before moving to Minnesota where Winchell, the fourth and youngest child, was born.

“It’s crazy to me that I can be the first anything just because we’re in 2024, but I’m proud to represent the Vietnamese-American community and, of course, just my community in general,” she said in an interview with Pioneer Press. “My parents are over the moon.”

The 41-year-old earned her B.A. from the University of Minnesota and her J.D. from Hamline University School of Law. According to Minnesota Lawyer, she is currently a solo practitioner at United Rivers Law Firm PLLC.

Winchell previously served as the president of the Washington County Bar Association. According to the State Bar of Wisconsin, she was recently given the Nonresident Lawyers Division Founder’s Award for serving in the Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD).

Winchell became interested in being a judge while clerking for Judge P. Hunter Anderson after graduating from law school

“I just saw how thoughtful the judge I was working for was when he made decisions for the people coming before him,” she told Pioneer Press. “They always knew what his reasoning was and why he made the decisions that he made. Regardless of whether they liked the decision, they at least understood where he was coming from.”

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