Senior Judge James E. Dehn
Senior Judge James E. Dehn


Appointed on June 26, 1987, by Governor Rudy Perpich.  Elected in 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012. Retired on June 26, 2017.

Appointed and assigned to serve statewide as Senior Judge from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2025.


William Mitchell College of Law (J.D. 1975)

University of Minnesota (B.A. in Economics and Political Science, 1971)

Institute For Faculty Excellence, University of Memphis (2002-2003)

Employment Background:

Minnesota District Court Judge (1987-2017)

Dehn Law Office, Cambridge, Minnesota (1980-87)

Assistant Isanti County Attorney (1979-80)

Special Assistant Attorney General, State of Minnesota (1976-78)

Judicial Postitions:

Chair (2006 - 2008), Member (Since 2000) - Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards

Lead Judge for Children Justice Initiative program (2005 – 2017)

Member/Chairperson, Minnesota Judicial Stress Committee (2000 – 2005)

Chair/Co-Chair Personal Development Committee, Minnesota Judicial College (1990 - Present)

Advisory Panel Member, Century Council/National Association Of State Judicial Educators (NASJE), development of National DWI Curriculum (2002 - Present)

Member, Minnesota Department of Corrections Felony DWI Advisory Committee (2002)

Member, Minnesota DWI Task Force (1992 – Present)

Member, Towards Zero Death Committee, Department of Public Safety, State of Minnesota (2004-Present)

Member, Minnesota Department of Corrections DWI study group (1998)

Member, 1999 Legislative DWI Task Force (Senate/House)

Board member, Minnesota Law Related Education (MLRE) (1998 – 2005)

Member, Minnesota State Bar Association Mock Trial Advisory Board (2006 – Present)

Professional Affiliations:

Minnesota State Bar Association

American Judicature Society


Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (Williamsburg, VA, in 2009, and Santa Rosa, CA, in 2008)

Texas Center for the Judiciary DWI Conference (Fort Worth, TX, Aug. 2007)

ABATE International Conference (2009)

Minnesota Criminal Justice Institute (2008)

Texas College for Judicial Studies (Austin, TX, April 2007)

Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety (Chicago, IL, in 2007, and Charlotte, NC, 2005)

Wisconsin 7th District Judges Association (LaCross, WI, 2007)

Michigan District Judges Association State Conference (2006)

Governors Highway Safety Association National Meeting (Norfolk, VA, in 2005, and Honolulu, HI, in 2004)

Nebraska County Judges Seminar (North Platte, NE, 2005)

New Hampshire District Court Judges Association, Durham Conference (2004)

National Association of Juvenile and Family Law (Orlando, 2004)

National and State Policy Briefing on Underage Drinking (Dept. of Military Affairs, Wisconsin (2002)

Minnesota Institute Legal Education (MILE) (1998, 2001, and 2003)

Annual Vehicular Homicide/DWI Conference (Chicago 1997)

New York Drunk Driving Institute, Binghamton, NY (1997)

Minnesota Annual Conference of Judges (1995 and 2000)


Adjunct Faculty - National Judicial College (2002 - Present)

Faculty - Minnesota Judicial College, Minnesota Sentencing Institute, and New Judges Orientation (1989 – Present)

National High School Mock Trial Championship Judicial Orientation Trainer/Judge (1992 – Present)

Peer Mediation Trainer - Princeton, MN, and St. Francis, MN, School Districts (1993 – 2009)

Mock Trial Involvement:

National High School Mock Trial Judge (1992 – Present)

Judicial Orientation Instructor (1996 – Present)

Minnesota High School Mock Trial Judge (1990 – Present)

Hamline University National Silver Flight Mock Trial Judge (1998 –1999)

MSBA Mock Trial Advisory Board (2006 – Present)

Coach, Cambridge/Isanti High School Mock Trial Team (1988 - 2009)

Awards or Honors:

National Awards: Paul H. Chapman Award from the Foundation For Improvement of Justice, Inc. (2003); National MADD Distinguished Service Award For Efforts to Combat Underaged Drinking (2001); National MADD Criminal Justice Award, The National President’s Award Committee (1996)

State Awards: Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) Judicial Star Award (2009); MADD Outstanding Greater Minnesota Judiciary Award (2006); “Outstanding Judge Award,” Minnesota District Judges Association (Sept. 2000); WCCO (a CBS Affiliate) Good Neighbor Award (1996)

Additional Information:

National Media Coverage:  Wall Street Journal (Electronic Monitoring) – May 24, 1994; TIME Magazine (Staggered Sentencing) – April 29, 2002.

Publications: Highway To Justice, Fall 2004, “Staggered Sentencing – A Proven DUI Sentencing Model”; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, March 2004, “Promising Sentencing Practice - Staggered Sentencing”; Hardcore Drunk Driving Judicial Guide – A Resource Outlining Judicial Challenges, Effective Strategies and Model Programs, “Staggered sentencing with intensive probation”.