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, graduate
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.
Presides as judge over all case types in District Court. Dakota County Adult Treament Court Judge, Dec. 2017-present. Dakota County Juvenile Court Judge, July 2016-present.
Minnesota Judicial Council (governing body of the Minnesota Judicial Branch), member, May 2006-June 2012 and July 2022-present
MN 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
MN Court Records Online (MCRO) Steering Committee, member, 2020-2022
Judicial Extern Supervisor, Mitchell Hamline College of Law, 2008-present
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
Chair of Judicial Council's Legislative Advisory Workgroup, 2008-2012
Formerly served on the Supreme Court Appeals Panel (SCAP) for civil commitment cases.
Annual presenter at New Judge Orientation, and Bridging the Gap programs, Minnesota Judicial Branch
Presenter at Minnesota District Judges Association conference
Regular guest lecturer at Metro State University, Constitutional Law course; Apple Valley and Rosemount Citizen's Police Academy
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.