Natalie Hudson is named the first Black chief justice of Minnesota Supreme Court

MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday promoted Natalie Hudson to be chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, making her the first Black person to lead it.

Hudson was appointed associate justice in 2015 by then-Gov. Mark Dayton, after serving as a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for 13 years. She’ll lead the high court when current Chief Justice Lorie Gildea retires in October.

“Justice Hudson is one of our state’s most experienced jurists. She has a strong reputation as a leader and consensus builder,” Walz said in a statement. “I am confident that she will advance a vision that promotes fairness and upholds the dignity of all Minnesotans.”

Hudson said she will approach this “tremendous responsibility … with humility and resolve,” and said she’ll seek to continue furthering “one of the best state court systems” in the U.S.

“The fact that I am the first person of color, the first Black person to be the chief justice of the state of Minnesota is of course not lost on me. And I’m deeply humbled and honored by this recognition,” Hudson said.

Her father also made history. Don Hudson became Macalester College’s first Black football coach in 1971.

Chief Justice Natalie Hudson


“So watching him for me was a lesson in perseverance, in courage and integrity, and that has carried me through my career,” she said.

Chief Justice Gildea praised Hudson’s selection.

“I have had the privilege of working closely with Justice Hudson on the Supreme Court for nearly eight years, and I have been impressed by her deep knowledge of the law, her collegial spirit, and her unparalleled work ethic,” she said in a statement.

Abou Amara, a Minneapolis attorney and WCCO contributor, clerked at the Minnesota Supreme Court and worked alongside Hudson.

“Justice Hudson is extremely smart, diligent, is always prepared for anything that comes before her. But also at the same time is deeply kind, is mentoring,” Amara said. “Regardless of race, this is the type of person you would want to be leading the judicial branch.”

Chief Justice Hudson thanked her mentors, her husband, who is a pastor, and her son, who is an attorney for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Waltz named Karl Procaccini, his former general counsel, to fill Hudson’s spot as associate justice.

Procaccini is currently a visiting professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He previously served as the top lawyer in the governor’s office, where his work included the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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