Judge David L. Knutson


Appointed June 29, 2004. Elected Nov. 2006, re-elected Nov. 2012 and Nov. 2018. Current term expires Jan. 2025.


William Mitchell College of Law - J.D.

St. Olaf College - B.A., Majors - Philosophy & Political Science

Burnsville Senior High School

Professional Background:

Attorney in private practice of law for 18 years as a partner/shareholder in several firms in Apple Valley and Burnsville, 1986-2004, including: Severson, Sheldon, Dougherty & Molenda, PA; Otten & Knutson; Knutson Law Office; and Knutson, Stier, Ilstrup & Knutson. 

Minnesota State Senator for 12 years representing portions of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Lakeville, and Rosemount. Elected 1992, re-elected 1996, 2000, and 2002. Served as an assistant minority leader for 7 years.

Judicial Activities:

Preside as district court judge in all case types in the First Judicial District. Chambered in Dakota County. Dakota County Adult Treament Court Judge, Dec. 2017-present. Dakota County Juvenile Court Judge, July 2016-Dec. 2023

Minnesota Judicial Council (governing body of the Minnesota Judicial Branch), member, May 2006-June 2012 and July 2022-present

Chair of Judicial Council's Legislative Advisory Workgroup, 2008-2012 and 2023-present

Minnesota Court Records Online (MCRO) Steering Committee, member, 2020-2022

Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, member, 2021-present

Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards, member, 2012-2020; Chairperson, 2019-2020

Assistant Chief Judge of the First Judicial District, 2017-2021

Judicial Extern Supervisor, Mitchell Hamline College of Law

Judicial Mentor, University of St. Thomas School of Law, 2007-present

Minnesota District Judges Association, member

Dakota County Bar Association, member

Warren Burger Inn of Court, member 2009-2022, President 2018-2019

Formerly served on the Supreme Court Appeals Panel (SCAP), now known as the Commitment Appeal Panel (CAP), for civil commitment cases.


Annual presenter at New Judge Orientation, and Bridging the Gap programs, Minnesota Judicial Branch on judicial ethics.

Presenter at Minnesota District Judges Association conference

Regular guest lecturer at Metro State University, Constitutional Law course; Inver Hills Community College criminal justice class

Citizen's Police Academy for Apple Valley/Rosemount and Lakeville

Bar Admissions:

Minnesota State Courts, 1986
Federal District Court, District of Minnesota, 1986
U.S. Court of Appeals - 8th Circuit, 1987
U.S. Tax Court, 1989

State Task Forces:

Appointed as a member of the following state legal task forces: Civil Legal Assistance, 1995; Juvenile Detention Facilities, 1995-1997; Foster Care and Adoption, 1997-1998; Parental Cooperation, 1999-2000; Commission on Legal Services, 2003-2004.

Public Service and Community Organizations:

Burnsville Breakfast Rotary Club, charter member, 1994-present, President 2013-2014

Served as a high school Mock Trial assistant coach and judge at high school and college Mock Trial competitions.  

Former member of the Burnsville, Apple Valley, and Northern Dakota County Chambers of Commerce; Former board member and president of Legal Assistance of Dakota County, Ltd.

Former board member of Dakota County Technical College Foundation; ServeMinnesota, Inc.; Dakota County Law Library Board; Burnsville Foundation; Our Saviour’s Shelter for the Homeless, Minneapolis; Burnsville Jaycees; Minnesota Valley YMCA, Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board; Valley Athletic Association, volunteer coach

Hosanna Lutheran Church, member, Lakeville, MN 

Honors and Awards:

Charles Umbanhower, Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award (St. Olaf College Political Science Department), 2014

Henry Toll Leadership Fellow (Council of State Governments), 2007

American Council of Young Political Leaders, delegate to Tanzania and Uganda in 2000; delegate/escort to Turkey in 2003

Burnsville High School Distinguished Alumni Award, 2001, Burnsville High School Hall of Fame

YMCA Distinguished Volunteer Award, 1999

Pro Bono Publico Attorney Award (Minnesota Legal Services Coalition), 1998

Lake Conference Distinguished Alumni Award, 1996

Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotan Award (Minnesota Jaycees), 1993


Married with two children and six grandchildren.