New chief defender for region appointed

By Janice Gregorson

An attorney from Anoka County has been named the new chief public defender of southeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Board of Public Defense has appointed Carol Weissenborn to fill the vacancy created in March when Owatonna attorney Joe Bueltel was named a district court judge. Bueltel had been named the chief public defender just months earlier, succeeding Candace Rasmussen of Winona, who stepped down after a decade. Rasmussen has been filling in since Bueltel's departure.

Weissenborn will supervise 40 public defenders and staff in the 3rd Judicial District, which includes 11 counties in southeastern Minnesota, including Olmsted.


A native of Miami, Weissenborn earned a law degree from the University of Chicago and then moved to Minnesota. She clerked for a judge in the 10th Judicial District for several years before opening her own law practice. She also did work as a court-appointed defense attorney. In 1996, she began working part time as a public defender and eventually became a full-time public defender, working primarily in Anoka and Sherburne counties.

Weissenborn begins her new duties Sept. 16 and will work out of Owatonna, at least temporarily.

She said she looks forward to working with public defenders in the region, who "work tirelessly every day to safeguard the constitutional rights of indigent people accused of crimes."

Weissenborn said working as a public defender is "noble work."

"It is challenging, and there are so many opportunities for creativity. You get to speak on behalf of people who desperately need you," she said.

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