ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota woman has become the state’s first judge of Hmong descent.

Gov. Mark Dayton named attorney Sophia Vuelo to the Ramsey County District Court bench on Thursday, Minnesota Public Radio reported . The position was open because the previous judge retired.

Vuelo was raised in Wisconsin and received degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Hamline University School of Law, which is now part of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She currently handles cases in juvenile protection, family and criminal matters at her solo practice. Vuelo also works in various prosecuting roles.

“This is a monumental occasion for the state of Minnesota, the judicial branch, and the Hmong-American community in Minnesota and around the country,” said state Rep. Fue Lee, DFL-Minneapolis.

Judicial diversity is important in ensuring residents of different racial, socioeconomics and geographic backgrounds trust the legal system, he said. It’s important people of different backgrounds see themselves represented in the state’s courtrooms, he said.

Dayton has worked to diversify the state’s judges during his two terms. He previously appointed the first African-American woman, Native American woman and openly gay justice to the state Supreme Court. Dayton also appointed the state’s first Hispanic appellate court judge.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org