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Wisconsin Judges Directory

For immediate release:
Friday, May 31, 2002


(Minneapolis, MN) Governor Jesse Ventura today announced the appointment of Regina Chu, Mel Dickstein and Steven Pihlaja to the Fourth Judicial District trial court bench in Hennepin County.  The openings occurred with the retirement of the Honorable Andrew Danielson and the Honorable J. Bruce Hartigan on April 30, 2002 and the Honorable Franklin Knoll on May 6, 2002.

Chu is an attorney in private practice in Minneapolis.  She has been a solo practitioner since 1997.  She was a partner in the law firm of Wilson and Chu in Minneapolis from 1993 through 1996, a shareholder in the Minneapolis law firm of Bassford, Lockhart, Truesdell and Briggs from 1985 to 1993, a special assistant attorney general in the Minnesota Attorney General's office from 1981 through 1984 and a law clerk for Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Douglas Amdahl from 1980 to 1981.  Chu earned her juris doctorate degree cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul in 1980 and her bachelor of arts degree cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1975.

"I was immediately impressed with Regina the first time I met her," Governor Ventura said.  "She's smart, has a great law background, and has been active in a variety of legal organizations."

Chu is vice chair of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, is president of the Douglas K. Amdahl Inn of Court, was president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Asian Pacific Bar Association, served on the Hennepin County Judicial Evaluation Committee and the Fourth Judicial District Ethics Committee.  She is also a volunteer attorney for the Children's Law Center's Truancy Intervention Project, volunteers for the Fishes and Loaves Feeding the Poor Program and was a volunteer attorney for Glenwood/Lyndale Legal Advice Clinic.

Chu, 48, was born in Detroit, Michigan, and lives in Minneapolis

Dickstein is of counsel with the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi in Minneapolis.  He was a partner with the firm from 1982 to 2001 and an associate attorney from 1978 to 1982.  Dickstein was an assistant United States attorney in Minneapolis from 1974 to 1978.  Dickstein earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1973 and his bachelor of arts degree summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1969.

"The judges on the Fourth District bench have come up with some creative ways to approach the problems society faces," Governor Ventura said.  "Mel also has a very creative approach.  He will add to the creativity of this court and help look for new ways to better serve the citizens of Hennepin County."

Dickstein is a Hennepin County Guardian ad Litem, serves on the Boards of Directors of the Greater Minneapolis Children's Crisis Nursery and the Northern Clay Center.  He has also served on the Adath Jeshuran Synagogue Hesed Committee and Scholarship Committee and was vice chair of Project Elan, a women's alternative to prison and the Lowry Hill Residents' Association.

Dickstein, 53, was born in New York and lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Linda Foreman and their son, Thomas, 4.

Pihlaja has been a solo practitioner in Minneapolis from 1979 to 1982 and again from 1997 to the present.  He was an attorney and partner in the law firm Pihlaja and Stromme in Minneapolis from 1982 to 1997.  Pihlaja earned his juris doctorate degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul in 1979 and his bachelor of science degree summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, in 1975.

"Some people describe Steve as a blue collar lawyer," Governor Ventura said.  "In my opinion, that's a positive.  Steve tries a lot of cases and doesn't have other lawyers or a big staff to help him out.  He also makes time to take an active role in his community in Northeast Minneapolis."

Pihlaja serves on the Minneapolis Charter Commission, is a committee member of the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, volunteers for the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association, the City Tree Project, chairs the environment committee of Windom Park Citizens in Action and is general counsel and a school committee member of McDonough Organization for Respect for Everyone School and general counsel and an executive committee member of the Sugarloaf Interpretive Center Association. He also chaired the Northstar Rail Community Task Force, was president of the Northeast Economic Development Council, co-chaired the Northeast Minneapolis Retail Task Force and received the president's award from the Northeast Business Association.

Pihlaja, 50, was born in Wadena and lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Lorrie Stromme.

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