Kandiyohi County Attorney - Shane Baker
Born and raised in Kandiyohi County, Shane D. Baker graduated from New London-Spicer High School in 1989. He attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus where he graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor’s Degree, a major in history and a minor in geography. In 1997, he graduated cum laude from Hamline University School of Law. He began his legal career as the judicial law clerk to the Hon. Judge Jon Stafsholt of Pope County. In April 2001, he began his career as a prosecutor when he became an Assistant County Attorney in Mahnomen County, Minnesota. He held that position for two years before becoming an Assistant County Attorney in Renville County in April 2003. In May 2005, Shane accepted an Assistant County Attorney position in Kandiyohi County. He held this position until October 2013 when he was appointed the Kandiyohi County Attorney. Shane serves on the Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Team, the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, and the CEE-VI Drug Task Force Board. In 2011, Shane was awarded the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project’s Journey of Hope Award for Outstanding Attorney for his work fighting domestic violence. Shane is also a member of the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association Education Committee, Appellate Law Committee as well as the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Council. Shane worked on the Restitution Working Group, a statewide legislatively created group studying how restitution is ordered and collected in Minnesota. Locally, Shane serves on his church’s Council and its social concerns committee, has captained a Relay for Life team for the last six years to raise funds to fight cancer, and sits on the board of the Willmar Area Food Shelf serving as President for 2016.
First Assistant County Attorney - Stephen J. Wentzell
Stephen is a native of Willmar and graduated from Willmar High School in 1994. He graduated with a BA from Concordia College, Moorhead and received his law degree at William Mitchell College of Law. Stephen began his legal career as a Judicial Clerk with the Honorable David L. Mennis and has served as an Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney since 2003. In March 2015, Stephen was promoted to First Assistant County Attorney. Stephen serves on the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) team, Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee, and Domestic Violence Risk Assessment team. In the community, Stephen is a member of the Willmar Rotary Club, Ducks Unlimited, and participates in the Willmar Adult Hockey league.
Assistant County Attorney - Aaron Welch
Aaron is a native of Kandiyohi County and graduated from Willmar High School in 1997. He has served as an Assistant County Attorney here since 2014, and in that role he practices almost entirely in the areas of criminal and juvenile prosecution. He a member of the Kandiyohi County Traffic Education & Safety Team, Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Team, Sexual Assault Response Team, the MCAA Peace Officers Training Committee, and serves as an Ethics Investigator for the 12th District Bar Association. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in 2002 and received his JD from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts in 2007. Since 2015 Aaron has taught Criminal Law courses as an adjunct professor at Ridgewater College in the law enforcement program, ranked as one of the Top 20 such programs in the US. Prior to his career in public service, Aaron worked in private practice at Anderson Larson PLLP in Willmar for three years, before taking a position as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Randall J. Slieter for one year. He is an Eagle Scout, and is active with Minnesota High School Mock Trial, the U of M Marching Band Alumni Society, Prairie Winds Concert Band, Cub Scout Pack 224, and the Many Point Staff Alumni Association. Aaron lives in Willmar with his family, and works every day to make sure that Kandiyohi County is a good and safe place to live for all of his neighbors.
Assistant County Attorney - Suelana Kinney
Suelana Kinney joined the office of the Kandiyohi County Attorney in January 2014. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude in 1998. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2001, Suelana worked for several years as a law clerk for the judges in Kandiyohi County, mainly the Hon. Donald M. Spilseth and the Hon. Kathryn Smith, now retired. Beginning in 2010, Suelana worked as a court reporter in Meeker County initially for the Hon. Steven Drange and, following Judge Drange’s retirement, for the Hon. Stephanie Beckman. Suelana previously served as President of the Kandiyohi County Bar Association, the treasurer of the YMCA Childcare Parent Advisory Board, secretary of the Willmar Area Food Shelf Board of Directors, and on the Eighth Judicial District eCourt Committee.
Assistant County Attorney - Kristen Pierce
Assistant County Attorney - James T. Anderson
James T. Anderson joined the office of the Kandiyohi County Attorney in January 2015. He has practiced law in Minnesota since 2007. He is a 2004 magna cum laude graduate of St. Cloud State University, with a B.A. in psychology. He was named an All American Scholar Athlete in 2004. While at St. Cloud State University, Jim played varsity golf and was a three-time varsity letter winner as well as a member of the Psychology Honor Society. He graduated from St. Thomas University School of Law in 2007. Jim is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and the 12th District Bar Association, where he served as President. Prior to joining the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office, Jim was an associate with Anderson, Larson, Saunders & Klaassen in Willmar, MN. Jim is a board member Kandiyohi County Law Library and a Willmar Community Education presenter. A native of Willmar, MN, Jim is an avid golfer, hunter and fisherman and enjoys spending time with his family.
Assistant County Attorney - Samuel Weeks
Samuel joined the Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office in June 2016. He graduated with a BA in International Relations in 2008 and graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2012. Samuel moved to Willmar in 2013 to join Anderson Law Offices, and he began work in January 2015 as an Assistant County Attorney in Meeker County, Minnesota. He is active in the community, serving on the Kandiyohi County Drug Free Communities Coalition, as the leader of a local Boy Scout troop, and singing second tenor with the West Central Connection a cappella men's chorus. Samuel grew up in Ogden, Utah, where he was an avid hiker and mountain biker; he now settles for walking around lakes and road biking. He enjoys spending time with his family and pretending to be competent at home improvement projects.
Paralegal - Jodi Hilbert
Jodi Hilbert graduated from Willmar Community College in 1994 with an Associate of Arts degree. She graduated from Winona State University in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in paralegal studies. She completed her paralegal internship at the Winona County Attorney’s Office in 1998 before moving to Willmar to join the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office in 1998 as the Paralegal and Kandiyohi County Diversion Coordinator. She assists 7 attorneys with legal research and writing, trial and exhibit preparation, witness coordination, manages appellate cases, and completes other tasks. From 1998-2011, she also served as the Kandiyohi County Diversion Coordinator where she met with juvenile and adult offenders and managed their cases rather than them going to court for their charge. During those 13 years, her case load totaled approximately 2,500 cases.
In 2005, she was awarded the Minnesota Association of Pretrial Services Agencies Board of Director’s Award for her outstanding dedication and professionalism in the field of pretrial services for her work as the Kandiyohi County Diversion Coordinator. In 2014, she had met all the requirements of the Minnesota Paralegal Association’s MnCP credentialing program and became a Minnesota Certified Paralegal. The MnCP program establishes a standard of competency of paralegals in Minnesota and validates their qualifications and offers a credential to paralegals that meet certain education and experience requirements. They are recognized as career paralegals and the top paralegals in the State of Minnesota. She continues to take legal education courses and trainings in order to maintain her MnCP status. She is currently a member of the Minnesota Paralegal Association. She is a former member of the Minnesota Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and previously served on the Willmar Fest Board and the Business and Professional Women-Willmar Chapter where she served as President, Membership Chair, and Historian. She is also a 2004 graduate of the Willmar Lakes Area Leadership Perspectives Program. She is also an avid photographer and enjoys traveling and volunteering.
Victim Services Coordinator - Jennifer Hovland
Jen joined the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office in September 2013 as the Victim Services Coordinator. She graduated from Wartburg College in 1995. She has worked in the human services field in Kandiyohi County for over 17 years. In this position, Jen assists crime victims in many ways, including informing them of and aiding them in exercising their rights, claiming restitution, understanding their role in the system, attending court hearings, and assisting them in presenting their victim impact statements. She also coordinates victim services throughout the county by collaborating with Law Enforcement and Corrections. Jen is a member of the Danger Assessment Team, Coordinating Council, Forensic Investigations Project Team, and Restorative Justice Advisory Council. Jen will be graduating from the Vision 2040 Leadership Program in May 2017.
Restorative Justice Diversion Program Coordinator - Kristi LeLoux
Kristi is a native of Olivia. She attended Alexandria Area Technical Institute and graduated from the Legal Secretary course in 1980. Kristi began her career in the legal field by working for Renville County Court Administration. Kristi has worked for private law firms and began working for the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office in March 2004. In 2011, Kristi began training and working with the Kandiyohi County Restorative Justice Diversion Program. She has completed extensive training in the Restorative Practices field and continues to attend trainings to assist her with facilitating conference meetings and Circles. Since 2011, Kristi has facilitated Circles and conference meetings with youth and their parents working towards issues leading up to a crime and aiding in repairing the harm that has been done to the youth, families, victims, and the community. Since 2015 Kristi has been looking at ways to improve the program. She has been working on volunteer recruitment and retention. Through regional efforts, Kandiyohi County has partnered with the Restorative Justice Departments from Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Redwood, Lincoln, Lyon, Pipestone, Murray and Rock Counties to offer a Restorative Practices in School training. Kristi continues to promote Restorative Justice philosophy in Kandiyohi County to help effectuate change.