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New to the Bench: Judge Keala Ede

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Our "New to the Bench" series helps HCBA members get to know judges who were recently appointed to the Fourth Judicial District Bench. Judge Keala C. Ede was appointed to the bench in March 0f 2022 by Governor Tim Walz. 

Why did you want to become a judge? 

I wanted to make a positive contribution toward the judicial ideal of equal justice under law. Over the course of my career as an advocate, I’d come to appreciate the profound role and responsibility of judges in striving toward that goal. With that in mind, I applied to offer my diverse background, work ethic, and commitment to justice in service of the public as a judge. 

What was your career path before becoming a judge? 

I started out with a two-year clerkship for Associate Justice Steven Levinson (ret.) of the Hawai’i Supreme Court. I spent the next three years in civil litigation, first at the Honolulu law firm of Cades Schutte, and then at Robins, Kaplan, Miller, & Ciresi here in Minneapolis. Robins was very supportive of pro bono. I was fortunate to participate in the Volunteer Lawyers Network Eviction Representation Project and the state Public Defender’s Office Pro Bono Appeals Program. These experiences affirmed my decision to dedicate my career to public service. 

For the next six years, I served as a public defender, both in the U.S. territory of American Samoa and in Orange County, California. I then moved back to Hennepin County and served as an Assistant Attorney General for a year. While at the Attorney General’s Office, I primarily prosecuted criminal Medicaid fraud, though I also assisted in a civil fraud prosecution of a for-profit college. In the last six years before I joined the bench, I served as an assistant federal defender in the Office of the Federal Defender, District of Minnesota. I am deeply grateful for the many inspiring colleagues and mentors I have had along the way. 

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing our judicial system today? 

Public trust in our institutions. As a society, we have traditionally looked to courts as the forum in which our gravest disputes can reach a fair and just resolution. Today, people are increasingly questioning the legitimacy of all three branches of our government, including our judicial system. I think these contemporary challenges require that we rededicate ourselves to the guiding principle of equal justice under law, including by consistently focusing upon on procedural fairness and restorative justice, whenever possible. 

I think these contemporary challenges require that we rededicate ourselves to the guiding principle of equal justice under law, including by consistently focusing upon on procedural fairness and restorative justice, whenever possible.



What’s one valuable piece of advice you have received? 

Advice from my parents: work hard, be humble, be kind, be grateful, listen, and laugh at yourself. Simple goals to reach for each day. 

What’s been the most surprising thing to you since taking the bench? 

Given the size and scope of judicial business conducted in Hennepin County, I have been pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of dedicated and collegial public servants who work throughout our district. Every day I come to work, I am reminded of how lucky I am to interact with people who are dedicated to serving the public with compassion, integrity, and respect. 

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? 

Socially, I just love spending time with family and friends. Recreationally, I enjoy surfing when I can, including on Gichigami. I also like to swim, skateboard, snowboard, hike, fish, and camp. I try to get outdoors as much as I can. 

What are some books, movies, television shows and/or music you enjoy? 

Here are some recent examples of each. 
Book: While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams 
Movie: Nope 
Television: Wednesday 
Music: Gabby Pahinui -  His music is not recent, as he passed away in 1980, but it’s timeless.
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Joseph Satter