Bench + Bar of Minnesota

Commission on Judicial Selection recommends 2nd Judicial District candidates to Gov. Walz


April 24, 2024

Claire Lancaster  



Commission on Judicial Selection Recommends Second Judicial District Candidates to Governor Walz


[ST. PAUL, MN] – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced today that it is recommending five candidates for consideration to fill two vacancies in Minnesota’s Second Judicial District. One of the vacancies occurred upon the elevation of the Honorable JaPaul J. Harris to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the other vacancy will occur upon the retirement of the Honorable Elena L. Ostby. These seats will be chambered in St. Paul in Ramsey County.

Jessica Bierwerth: Jessica Bierwerth is an assistant county attorney in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, where she handles adult criminal appeals and civil commitments. She previously handled child protection and adult criminal prosecution matters. Bierwerth’s community involvement includes serving as chair of the board of directors of Merrick Community Service on St. Paul’s Eastside. She previously volunteered with the Junior League of St. Paul, Minnesota Women Lawyers, and as a high school mock trial judge.

Stacy Deery Stennes: Stacy Deery Stennes is a partner at Conlin Law Firm, LLC, where she represents people who have been injured by negligence, medical malpractice, and defective products. Her community involvement includes serving on the Minnesota State Bar Association Assembly, coaching high school mock trial, mentoring law students and new lawyers, and volunteering with Children’s Law Center and Open Arms Minnesota. Deery Stennes’s community involvement has included serving as the former president of the Minnesota Association for Justice and a founding member of their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity committee. She is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Veena Iyer: Veena Iyer is the executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. She was previously a shareholder at Nilan Johnson Lewis and an Equal Justice Works fellow at Legal Aid Chicago. Iyer was also a law clerk for the Honorable Natalie Hudson on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Honorable Susan Burke on the Fourth Judicial District, and the Honorable Matthew Kennelly on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Her community involvement includes leadership roles with the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association and Minnesota Women Lawyers. Iyer also serves on the Board of Regents of Augsburg University and the Community Advisory Board of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank.

Jennifer Verdeja: Jennifer Verdeja is an assistant director of the Trial and Pretrial Justice Division in the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, where she supervises felony adult trial attorneys. She was previously an assistant public defender in the Second Judicial District and a community corrections worker for Ramsey County. Verdeja has served on the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force and the Second District Ethics Committee. Her community involvement includes serving as a judge for the Urban Debate League, a volunteer with the Cretin-Derham Hall Parents’ Association, and a youth coach in St. Paul.

Devona Wells: Devona Wells is an assistant county attorney in the Civil Division of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, where she litigates complex civil cases and is general counsel to the county’s public health and emergency management departments. She was previously an attorney at Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP and a law clerk for the Honorable Natalie Hudson on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Wells’s community involvement includes serving on the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, as vice president of the Mississippi Market Co-op board of directors in St. Paul, and as a volunteer for the Reader/Writer Program. She has also volunteered as an attorney for The Advocates for Human Rights and Volunteer Lawyers Network.

For more information about the judicial selection process, please visit the Governor’s Judicial Appointments webpage.

Steve Perry
(612) 278-6333


Adverting Manager
Erica Nelson
(763) 497-1778


Classified Ads
Jackie Duvall-Smith
(612) 333-1183

Art Director
Jennifer Wallace
(612) 278-6311