Regina Chu spent over two decades serving the people of Minnesota as a respected and influential judge. Her many groundbreaking decisions from the bench left a lasting impact on the state. This is the story of her remarkable journey to the judiciary and the highlights of her tenure as a boundary-breaking jurist.
Early Life and Education
Regina Chu was born in 1950 in Saint Paul, Minnesota to Chinese immigrant parents. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be an attorney. She attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1975. Chu then enrolled at the William Mitchell College of Law, earning her Juris Doctor in 1980.
Chu began her legal career in 1977 as a law clerk for a Hennepin County District Court judge. This gave her valuable experience in the state court system.
Attorney General’s Office
In 1980, Chu became a law clerk for the Minnesota Supreme Court, working directly with Justice Amdahl. The following year, she joined the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office as a special assistant attorney general. She handled cases on behalf of the state for several years.
From 1985 to 1997, Chu worked in private practice. She gained expertise in civil litigation and employment law as both an associate and partner.
Appointment to District Court
In 2002, Governor Jesse Ventura appointed Chu to the Fourth Judicial District Court in Hennepin County. She became the first Asian Pacific American on the court.
Elections and Re-elections
Chu had to run in elections to remain on the bench. She proved very popular with voters.
- In 2004, she won election to a full 6-year term on the court.
- Voters re-elected her in 2010 and 2016 without opposition.
High-Profile Criminal Cases
Chu presided over several prominent criminal trials during her judgeship. This included overseeing cases involving gang violence, police shootings, and government corruption.
Civil Rights Cases
She also handled many civil rights disputes. For example, Chu made key rulings in cases involving same-sex marriage rights and affirmative action programs. Her decisions upheld equal protection under the law.
After serving with distinction for two decades, Chu retired from the bench in May 2022. She had reached the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 in Minnesota.
Legacy and Impact
As the first Asian Pacific American judge in her district, Chu paved the way for greater diversity in the Minnesota judiciary. She mentored many young lawyers, especially women of color. Her impartial rulings in high-profile trials and support of civil rights cemented her legacy as a principled and independent judge.
Outside the courtroom, Chu stayed active in the Twin Cities Asian Pacific American community. She was involved in numerous legal and nonprofit organizations. Chu now enjoys retirement with her husband, two children, and young grandchildren.
Regina Chu exemplified the best qualities of a judge – intelligence, integrity, and commitment to justice. She never shied away from tough cases that had major social implications. Thanks to her groundbreaking career, the Minnesota judiciary better reflects the diversity of the community it serves. Chu leaves behind a legacy of courageous and ethical judicial service.
Q: When was Regina Chu appointed as a judge?
A: She was appointed to the 4th Judicial District Court in 2002 by Governor Jesse Ventura.
Q: How many times was Judge Chu re-elected to the bench?
A: She was re-elected by voters twice, in 2004 and 2010, each time to 6-year terms.
Q: What were some of her most famous cases?
A: Chu presided over prominent criminal trials involving gang violence and police-involved shootings. She also made key civil rights rulings on issues like same-sex marriage.
Q: Why did Chu retire in 2022?
A: She retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Minnesota state judges.
Q: What is Chu’s legacy?
A: As the first Asian Pacific American judge in her district, she diversified the judiciary and mentored many young lawyers of color. Her impartial rulings cemented her reputation as a principled jurist.