Elected in 2014, effective Jan. 5, 2015. Current term expires Jan. 2021.
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, 1985
Graduate Studies, Luther Seminary, 1982
B.A., Augsburg College, cum laude, Political Science, 1981
- Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (Murder, Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Criminal Vehicular Homicide, and Appellate Specialties), 1989-2015
- Stearns County Attorney’s Office (Felony, Juvenile, and Misdemeanor Prosecution), 1986–1989
- Dakota and Hennepin County Attorney's Offices, Law clerk, 1984-1985
- U.S. Attorney's Office, Legal intern, 1983
- U.S. Congress and Minnesota Legislature, Intern, 1981
- State Services for the Blind, 1980–1982
Criminal, April 14, 2017 – Present
- Presiding Judge, Restorative Court (February 2019 to Present)
- Presiding Judge, Community Court (July 2019 –January 2019)
Family, September 1, 2016 - April 13, 2017
Criminal, January 2015 - August 31, 2016
- Scholarship Recipient, National Judicial College, “Best Judicial Practices for Handling Self-Represented Litigants" in Anchorage, Alaska (September 2019)
- 2015 Henry Toll Fellowship Recipient (Nashville, Tennessee)
- 2011 Nominee for Hennepin County Administrator’s Award
- Fatality Review Committee Member, Hennepin County District Court (appointed by Chief Judge Lucy Wieland for 2007-2010)
- Scholarship Recipient, National College of District Attorneys Conference on Prosecuting Homicides in San Francisco, California (May 2009)
- Scholarship Recipient, Office of Violence Against Women, National College of District Attorneys Conference on Domestic Violence in Reno, Nevada (November 2005)
- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, “Metro Alliance Student Leadership Mentoring Program Certificate of Appreciation for Contributing Time and Talent as a Mentor” (2001 – 2002)
- Hennepin County Star Performer, “Exceptional Contributor to the Community Award” (June 1999)
- Hennepin County Attorney’s Office Nominee for “Exceptional Contributor to the Community Award” (April 1999)
- League of Women Voters, “Grace Norris Award” (May 2000 and April 1999)
- Volunteer Service Award, Minnesota Indian Women Resource Center (May 1997)
- Minnesota State Bar Association Distinguished Service Award for Mock Trial Attorney Coach (1990-1992)
- St. Cloud Human Rights Commission Outstanding Service Award for Women’s Equality Day (August 1986)
Fourth Judicial District Committee Assignment:
- Equal Justice Committee Member, Fourth Judicial District Bench, (July 2018 to Present)
- Warrant Forgiveness Hotline Committee (2019)
Community Outreach and Involvement:
- Richfield Historical Society (September 19, 2020), Guest Speaker, “Constitutional Law Day: Role of the Courts and Changes While Operating in a Pandemic Environment”
- “Rise Up: Standing Together for Positive Change: (30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast),” participant, Minneapolis Armory, January 20, 2020.
- YMCA Youth in Government (January 9, 2020) at Minneapolis Hilton Hotel), Administered Oath to Youth “Constitutional Officers” elected to serve during the leadership conference.
- Little Earth Association Reception (December 17, 2019), Conversation with residents about hosting a Judicial Listening Session at Little Earth and about the Hennepin County Warrant Hotline.
- All Square Listening Session (Minneapolis, MN) (September 19, 2019). Conversation with staff who all have felony convictions and Judges about their personal experience in the criminal justice system, things they wished the judges knew who sentenced them and insights for the bench from their personal experiences.
- State Fair Judicial Outreach Booth (Sept 2019 and Sept 2018): talked with state fair participants about Minnesota Judicial System and answered questions.
- Multi-jurisdiction Warrant Forgiveness Day (June 2, 2019), Washington Magnet School, organized by Ramsey County Bench. Judge Benson assisted by recalling Hennepin County warrants and resolving old cases or rescheduling cases back into court.
- Minneapolis American Indian Center Ceremony (March 28, 2019), presentation of the tribal flags of the Red Lake Nation and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa to Presiding Judges in Family Court and Juvenile Court in Hennepin County and Dakota Counties.
- Committee Member, “Bending the Arc Toward Justice: A review of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Racial Bias Task Force,” (February 7, 2019: St Thomas Law School);
- Racial Equity National Judicial Conference (June 2019: Minneapolis, Minnesota). Participated in conference as Fourth Judicial District Member.
- Hennepin County Warrant Forgiveness Day (Sabbathani Community Center) (2017): Recalled Hennepin County Warrants and resolved old cases and rescheduled old cases on court calendar.
- “Listening Session: Tell It To the Courts, Division of Indian Works” (2017)
- “Listening Session: Tell It to the Courts,” Minneapolis (2016)
- Augsburg University (February 14, 2019), Guest Speaker, “Criminal Justice System in MN and U.S.” Hamline University (April 11, 2019), Guest Speaker, “Criminal Justice in Minnesota and U.S.”
Member, Minnesota District Judges Association
, 2015 to Present
Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
Minnesota Women Lawyers
Local, state, national and international speaker on a variety of topics including: domestic violence, sexual assault, trial skills, law enforcement training on search and seizure/Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment issues, report writing and courtroom testimony. Former William Mitchell Adjunct Professor for Criminal Law Class, Former Mock Trial Attorney Coach for Minnesota State Bar Competitions, Former Forensic Judge for Minnesota State High School and College Competitions. Guest Speaker, Minnesota Department of Corrections, Addressing Supervised Release and Probation Violations for Probation and Parole Officers with an emphasis on supervising sex offenders (2019, 2018 and 2015).
Former Mock Trial Judge for Hamline University Law School, William Mitchell Law School, St. Thomas Law School competitions and University of Minnesota undergraduate mock trial competitions.