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, 1978.

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 in the Senate for seven years.

Judicial Activities:

Elected as Assistant Chief Judge of the First Judicial District in May 2017. Relected May 2019.

In addition to regular court calendars, he also serves as a Dakota County drug court judge from Dec. 2017 to present, a Dakota County juvenile court judge from July 2016 to present, and on the Supreme Court Appeals Panels for civil commitment cases.

Judicial Extern Supervisor, Mitchell Hamline College of Law, 2008-Present.

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

Member of the Minnesota District Judges Association.

Member of the Dakota County Bar Association.

Member, Warren Burger Inn of Court, 2009-Present, President 2018 to 2019.

Member, Minnesota Judicial Council, the governing body of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, Chief Justice appointee, served two three-year terms, May 2006-June 2012. 

Chair of Judicial Council's Legislative Advisory Workgroup, 2008-2012.

Member of Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards, appointed by governor 2012, reappointed 2016; Chair 2019-2020

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

Presenter at Minnesota District Judges Association conferences.

Regular guest lecturer at Metro State University, Constitutional law course; Apple Valley Citizen's Police Academy.

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:

Charter member of the Burnsville Breakfast Rotary Club 1994 to present, President 2013-2014.

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

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. 

Member, Hosanna Lutheran Church, Lakeville, MN 

Honors and Awards:

Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotan Award (Minnesota Jaycees), 1993.

Lake Conference Distinguished Alumni Award, 1996.

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

YMCA Distinguished Volunteer Award, 1999.

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

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

Selected as a delegate to Tanzania and Uganda in 2000 and a delegate and escort to Turkey in 2003, representing the U.S. by the American Council of Young Political Leaders.

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


Married with two children and four grandchildren.