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Judge Profile:

Judge James T. Swenson

Hennepin County

Family Justice Center
Phone: (612)348-6734

Chambers Phone: 612-348-2192

Chambers Email: Email Chambers Staff


Appointed in 1995.
Elected in 1996, 2002, 2008, and 2014.
His current term expires in Jan. 2021.


2011 HCBA Professionalism Award

2007 Paul Chapman Award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice

2006 Minnesota District Judges Association District Judge of the Year

Anne V. Simonett Excellence in Service Award 2004 Employee of the Year

  • "For extraordinary commitment to the citizens of Hennepin County demonstrated by his innovative leadership in Family Court; resulting in reduced delays and acrimony, pioneering programs such as Early Neutral Evaluation, developing key relationships with legislators and establishing the Fourth Judicial District's Family Court as a national standard of excellence."


J.D., cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School, 1976
B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, University of Minnesota, 1972


Attorney, Mackall, Crounse & Moore, 1976

Professional Memberships:

Minnesota District Judges Association

Additional Information:

Assignment History

  • Family, 7/1/12-Present
  • Chief Judge, 7/1/2008-6/30/12
  • Assistant Chief Judge, 7/1/2006-6/30/2008
  • Family 1/1997-2008, Presiding Judge from 2003-2006
  • Criminal & Civil, 10/1995-12/1996

Civic Commitments

  • University of Minnesota
    • Recipient - Regent's Alumni Service Award
    • Former member Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics
    • Former member Alumni Association - National Board
    • Painted the Poster for the "There's Just One 'U'" Celebration
    • Former member Legal Writing Instructor - Law School
  • Former member Minneapolis Board of Adjustments
  • Former member Big Brothers of Minneapolis
  • Bar Association - former member of the following sections or committees
    • Chair and all officer positions of Volunteer Lawyers Network
    • State Bar Construction Section - officer and newsletter editor
    • Ethics Committee
  • Frequent CLE Lecturer

Publications and continuing legal and judicial education contributions sinceappointment to the bench

  • 2006 "Best Interest Factors" chapter, Minnesota Child Custody & Support Deskbook
  • March 2006 "Drafting Tips for Proposed Findings in Family Court", Minnesota CLE - 27th Annual Family Law Institute
  • February 2006 "Relocation/Removal Law in Minnesota", HCBA
  • March 2005 "Early Neutral Evaluations", Minnesota CLE 26th Annual Family Law Institute
  • December 2004 "Family Law - Early Case Management", Annual Conference of Judges
  • December 2004 "Custody Evaluations", HCBA
  • October 2004 "Competence & Conscience - What You Say is What You Get", AAML Divorce Camp
  • October 2004 "What You Need to do to Help the Court", Annual MNCPA Business Valuation Conference
  • May 2004 "Contempt", Judicial College
  • March 2004 "What's new in Family Court and What's Just Around the Corner", Minn. CLE - 25th Annual Family Law Institute
  • March 2003 "Contempt in Family Court", Minn. CLE - 24th Annual Family Law Institute
  • March 2002, "How to Cross-Examine a Financial Expert", Minn. CLE - 23rd Annual Family Law Institute
  • January 2002, "Perspectives from the Bench", St. Thomas University - 12th Annual Business Valuation Seminar
  • December 2001, "Current Trends in Spousal Maintenance", MILE 17th Annual Family Law Institute, The Hottest Topics in Practice
  • October 2001 "Parenting Plans Are Great! How Do We Pay for Them?", Child Support Strategies Under Emerging Legislation and Case Law, AAML - Divorce Camp 2001
  • October 2001 HCBA Family Law Section, "Custody Evaluations from the Perspective of the Bench."
  • April 2001 HCBA Family Law Section, "How Attorneys Should Present Requests for Relief Under 'Unusual' Financial Circumstances."
  • February 2001 "A Judicial Perspective", MILE 16th Annual Family Law Institute - Divorce, Parenting & Maintenance
  • December 1999 Panel Discussion, "What judges really think and want to know to make informed decisions in the best interests of the children", MILE Family Law -Custody 2000
  • October 1999 "What Lawyers Do Wrong with Finances", AAML - Divorce Camp 1999
  • In addition to these formal speeches, I taught legal writing at the University of Minnesota Law school for a number of years.