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Judge Thomas S. Fraser

Hennepin County Courthouse
Fourth Judicial District
(612) 348-2040

Chambers Phone: (612) 543-1795
Reporter: (612) 596-2870 – for transcript requests only
Law Clerk: (612) 543-1795
Judicial Clerk: (612) 543-1796

Fourth Judicial District Judicial Officers

Judge Thomas S. Fraser


Appointed Feb. 3, 2014, by Governor Mark Dayton. Elected in 2016. Current term expires Jan. 2023.


Harvard Law School, J.D., 1976

University of Minnesota, B.A., Economics, 1973


Attorney, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., 1979-2014
Shareholder in 270-lawyer firm; former Executive Committee and Board member; former Chair, Pro Bono Committee; chaired Litigation Department for 18 years.

Civil trial practice, including shareholder and partnership litigation, franchise, directors’ and officers’ liability, insurance coverage, medical malpractice and other health care disputes, family business disputes, and employment cases, including non-competition agreements, trade secret cases, and other business torts.  Conducted internal investigations of corporations and a public entity.

Arbitrator, mediator, and special master for over 20 years; mediated or arbitrated over 600 cases; appointed by state and federal courts as special master, referee, receiver, mediator, and arbitrator.  Served as neutral in contract, securities, personal injury, products liability, malpractice, employment, trusts/estate, shareholder, and real estate disputes.  Neutral for American Arbitration Association, U.S. Arbitration and Mediation, and International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR). Trained other neutrals for AAA, U.S. Arbitration and Mediation, and MCLE.

Pro-bono lawyer for numerous organizations and clients, ranging from Louisiana death-penalty cases to domestic-abuse cases and juvenile-court proceedings for foster children. 

Special Assistant Attorney General, 1977-79
Solicitor General and Tort Claims Divisions, Office of Minnesota Attorney General.  Advised state agencies, including Dept. of Economic Development, Public Employment Relations Board, and Bureau of Mediation Services; defended agencies, judges, and other state officials in state and federal court; prosecuted implied-consent cases; second-chaired criminal prosecution.

Law Clerk, U.S. District Judge Earl R. Larson (D. Minn.), 1976-77

Professional Activities:

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers

Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators

Distinguished Fellow, International Academy of Mediators

Fellow, American Bar Foundation

Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota

Academy of Court-Appointed Masters, Board member, 2012-present

Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure,

      Member, 2008-2012

Federal Practice Committee, U.S. District Court (D. Minn.), Member, 2001-07

Minnesota State Bar Association

Chair (2013-14) and Vice Chair (2012-13), Judiciary Committee; Member, Amicus Society Steering Committee, 2012-present; Member, Judicial Elections Task Force, 1997; Member, Complex Litigation Task Force, 1991-92; Chair, Judicial Administration Committee, 1990-91; Member, Colleague Program

Hennepin County Bar Association

      Chair, Bench & Bar Committee, 1983-84; Past Member, Ethics Committee

Hennepin County Pro Bono Project (a/k/a “Civil Gideon Project”), Member, 2012-present

Call for Justice Task Force, Hennepin and Ramsey County Bar Associations, Chair, 2006-07

Lawyer Trust Account Board

      Chair, 2000-02; Member, 1996-2002 (appointed by Minnesota Supreme Court)

Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society

      Chair, 2011-12; Board member, 2008-14

American Bar Association

National Institute for Trial Advocacy and Minnesota Advocacy Institute, Past Faculty Member

Conference of Chief Judges (Minnesota State Courts), Civil Case Focus Group, 1991 and 1996

Minnesota Lawyers Mutual, Member, Claims Committee, 1984-88

Continuing Legal Education

      –    Frequent CLE lecturer on arbitration, mediation, pro-bono cases, directors' and officers' liability, trial practice, Rule 11, shareholder disputes, death-penalty litigation, valuation of corporate stock, evidence, and insurance

      –    Lectured on trial practice, pre-trial practice, arbitration, mediation, death penalty, and Rule 11 at University of Minnesota Law School, William Mitchell College of Law, Hamline University School of Law, and University of St. Thomas School of Law


2013 State of Minnesota Compensation Council (appointed by Chief Justice, Minnesota

      Supreme Court), Chair

Greater Twin Cities United Way Education Committee, Member, 2012-14

Joint Youth Athletics Commission, Minneapolis Public Schools and Minneapolis Park

      and Recreation Board, Member, 2012-13

Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, Mentor, 2010-present

Call for Justice, LLC, President and Board Chair, 2009-14, Board member, 2009-present

Council on Crime and Justice, Board member, 2012-present

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services Company for Legal Aid Leadership Committee,

      Member, 2011-14

Children’s Law Center of Minnesota

      President, 2007-09; Board member, 2005-12; Volunteer lawyer, 2006-14

The Fund for the Legal Aid Society

      Chair, 2002-04; Executive Committee, 2000-09; Board member, 1992-2012; Emeritus Board, 2012-14

The Advocates for Human Rights

      Founding member, Board of Directors, 1983-88; Member, Steering Committee, Death Penalty Project

Hennepin County Volunteer Lawyers Network

      Chair, 1984-85; Board member, 1979-90; Volunteer lawyer, 1979-present

Volunteer Lawyers Network Benefactors, Board member, 2011-13

Minnesota Justice Foundation, Board member, 1985-86

Mediation Center, St. Paul, MN, Co-founder and Board member, 1982-86

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Girls’ softball coach, 2010-present

Minneapolis Alpine Ski Team (ski team for Minneapolis Public High Schools),

      Volunteer assistant coach, 2012-present


Civil Trial Specialist, Certified by Minnesota State Bar Association, 1993-present

Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice, 1994-present.


–    The Best Lawyers in America, 12+ years (Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and ADR); Best Lawyers Minneapolis Lawyer of the Year, 2014 (Arbitration), 2013 (Securities Litigation), and 2010 (ADR)

–    Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers

–    Benchmark Litigation: Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys

–    Lawdragon, 500 Leading Judges in America

–    Top Ten Super Lawyer, Minnesota Super Lawyers, 2003, 2008-13

Attorney of the Year, 2011 (Outstanding Service to the Profession), Minnesota Lawyer

Professionalism Award, Hennepin County Bar Association, 2011

Pro Bono Publico, Distinguished Service Award, Hennepin County Bar Foundation, 2007

"Judge's Choice" Award, Minnesota Lawyer, 1991

Additional Information:

Assignment History

Criminal/Civil, December 2018 – Present
Family Court, Jan. 29, 2016 – November 2018
Criminal/Civil, April 2014 - Jan. 28, 2016

Civil Practice Pointers & Preferences