Face coverings required in court facilities.
The response to COVID-19 has impacted access to courthouses and may change the way cases are handled.
Learn more »
Senior Judge Paul A. Nelson
Senior Judge Paul A. Nelson


Appointed: April 11, 1997

Elected: 1998, 2004, and 2010.

Retired Nov. 2, 2012. 

Appointed and assigned to serve statewide as Senior Judge from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2021.


University of Minnesota Law School (J.D. cum laude 1975); Wartburg College (B.A. 1969)


Private Practice with the law firm of Kraft Walser Nelson Hettig and Honsey (1975-1997)

Bar Admissions:

Minnesota Supreme Court (1975)
Federal District Court, District of Minnesota (1977)

Professional Organizations:

Minnesota District Judges Association (1997 - Present)
Minnesota State Bar Association (1975 - Present)

Additional Information:

Judge Nelson was born on a farm in Illinois in 1947.  After college he worked briefly with the predecessor of the Environmental Protection Agency as a biolgist in Duluth, MN.  He was drafted into the United States Army in 1970 and attained the rank of Sergeant.  He served with the 1st Air Cavalry Division in the Republic of Vietnam.

After completing law school he entered the private practice of law at the firm of Willette Kraft and Walser in 1975 where he remained until his appointment to the bench in 1997. 

Judge Nelson was elected Assistant Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial District in 2002 and again in 2004.  He was elected Chief Judge in 2006 and served through June 2010. He was also a Supreme Court appointee to the Legal Services Planning Commission.

Judge Nelson has been married since 1976 and has three grown sons.