Senior Judge Edward J. Cleary
Senior Judge Edward J. Cleary


Appointed Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals on Sept. 18, 2013. Re-appointed on November 1, 2016, by Governor Mark Dayton, and on Nov. 1, 2019, by Governor Tim Walz. Retired on April 30, 2020. Currently serving as a senior judge on the Court of Appeals through June 30, 2025.

Appointed Judge of the Court of Appeals on Dec. 29, 2011, by Governor Mark Dayton. Elected in 2014. 

Appointed Judge of the Second Judicial District on Aug. 19, 2002. Elected in 2004 and 2010. 


J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, 1977
B.A., magna cum laude, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), 1974


Director- Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility and Client Security Board, 1997-2002

Private Practice Attorney- Cleary Law Offices, 1980-1997

Assistant Public Defender- Ramsey County Public Defender's Office, 1980-1995

Associate- D.D. Wozniak, 1978-1980

Professional Associations:

Ramsey County Bar Association
Minnesota Bar Association
Minnesota District Judges Association
American Bar Association: Judicial Division
Former member, Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal

Professional Activities:

Member- MSBA (Minnesota State Bar Association) Governing Council, 2005-2010
Member- MSBA Board of Governors, 2002-2005
President- Ramsey County Bar Association 1998-1999
Member- Ramsey County Bar Association Executive Council, 1993-1996
Member- Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, 2006-2011
Member- Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of the Board on Judicial Standards, 1998, 2007-2008
Member-State Canvassing Board, Coleman-Franken Senate Recount 2008-2009

Community Activities:

Member- PEN Center USA, 1995-Present
Council Member, Minnesota News Council 1999-2002
Commissioner- St. Paul Charter Commission, 1994-1996

Lecturing and Teaching Experience:

Adjunct Professor- University of Minnesota Law School, 2000-Present

Lecturer- Stanford, Northwestern, and Washington & Lee Law Schools, 1993-1994

Published Materials:

Judge Cleary authored, "Beyond the Burning Cross," a book on the First Amendment published by Random House in 1994 and by Vintage Books in 1995.


Minnesota State Bar Association, co-awarded the "President's Award" for work on the Task Force on the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 2003

Minnesota State Bar Association, "Graven Public Service Award" for the Minnesota Attorney who best exemplifies the highest standards of the profession in combination with a commitment to community and public service, 1998

Elected "Super Lawyer" by peers, 1996 and 1997

American Library Association, Awarded the "Oboler Memorial Award" for the best published work in the nation on intellectual freedom, 1996

Highest Rating as an Attorney (AV), Martindale Hubbell

Ramsey County Bar Association, “Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award” for humanitarian service to the bar and the community, and for outstanding professional performance  and achievement in service to the citizens of Ramsey County, 2015.

Alumni of Notable Achievement Award, University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, 2017.