Commission on Judicial Selection recommends 1st Judicial District candidates to Gov. Walz

October 11, 2021
Contact: Claire Lancaster

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

[ST. PAUL, MN] – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced today that it is recommending four candidates for consideration to fill a vacancy in Minnesota’s First Judicial District. The vacancy occurred upon the retirement of the Honorable Kathryn D. Messerich. The seat will be chambered in Hastings in Dakota County.

Bryce Ehrman: Mr. Ehrman is an Assistant Scott County Attorney, where he represents Human Services in child protection proceedings. He is also a member of the Scott County Treatment Court and the Scott County Veterans Treatment Court. Previously, he served as a Guardian ad Litem Coordinator in the First Judicial District, as an Assistant Sibley County Attorney, and as an associate at Schauer Law Office. Mr. Ehrman’s legal experience includes prosecution of criminal offenses, juvenile delinquency, child protection, and civil private practice. His community involvement includes serving as a member of the Chaska Lions Club Board of Directors, as an investigator on the District Ethics Committee, and as an MSBA Mock Trial judge volunteer. Mr. Ehrman also serves as a mentor for students at Shakopee High School and Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

Valisa McKinney: Ms. McKinney is a Child Support Magistrate in the Second Judicial District. Prior to becoming a magistrate, she worked as an Assistant County Attorney in the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Dakota County Attorney’s Office. Ms. McKinney previously served as a Staff Attorney at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services where she represented low-income clients in child protection cases involving the Indian Child Welfare Act, as well as dissolution and custody cases. She has also worked in the Adult Prosecution Unit in the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. Ms. McKinney has served on a variety of boards including Legal Assistance of Dakota County and the executive board of the Minnesota Family Support and Recovery Council. She is a member of the Judges Association of Minnesota Dance Teams, and she judges dance competitions at the middle school, high school, and college level.

Stacey Sorensen: Ms. Sorensen is an Attorney Staff Counsel for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Her legal practice includes personal injury, premises liability, commercial liability, workers compensation, and complex insurance litigation. Additionally, Ms. Sorensen serves as an adjunct professor in Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s trial advocacy program. She is a Minnesota State Bar Association Certified Civil Trial Specialist. She has served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and as a volunteer faculty member for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Ms. Sorensen coaches high school mock trial and serves on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented (MCGT), as well as the Prior Lake chapter of MCGT.

Sarah Wendorf: Ms. Wendorf is the Chief Deputy County Attorney at the Scott County Attorney’s Office, where she advises the County Attorney on policymaking decisions affecting both criminal and civil proceedings. Previously, Ms. Wendorf worked as the Criminal Division Manager and as an Assistant Scott County Attorney. She has practiced in the areas of adult criminal prosecution, juvenile delinquency, and child protection. Ms. Wendorf serves on numerous multidisciplinary and steering committees in Scott County. In addition to her work in Scott County, Ms. Wendorf is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Cornerstone Advocacy Services. She is also an active member of Cornerstone’s Governance Committee, which works on implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Ms. Wendorf’s other community involvement includes service as a mock trial judge for Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School, a parent volunteer at St. Hubert School, and a member of the music ministry at St. Hubert Church.

For more information about the judicial selection process, please visit: https://mn.gov/governor/administration/judicialappointments/