The Honorable Dwayne N. Knutsen has been elected as chief judge of Minnesota’s Eighth Judicial District by his fellow district court judges. Currently serving as assistant chief judge of the district, he will begin serving as chief judge on July 1, 2018.

Assistant Chief Judge Knutsen has served the Eighth Judicial District since July 2010. He started his career in law as a private practice attorney in 1986, and he later served as a part-time assistant public defender in the Eight Judicial District for three years. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Assistant Chief Judge Knutsen served as Chippewa County attorney. Assistant Chief Judge Knutsen earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1985, and his bachelor of arts degree from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion in 1973. He is chambered in the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse in Granite Falls, Minnesota.

“It is an honor to have earned the faith and support of my colleagues. I look forward to taking on the responsibilities of chief judge. We have the pleasure of serving the smallest judicial district in the state. Our District’s size allows our bench to be more collaborative, creative, and responsive to our communities’ needs.” said Assistant Chief Judge Knutsen. “I thank the outgoing chief judge, the Honorable Michael J. Thompson, for his leadership. The District will be well served by Assistant Chief Judge-Elect Stephanie L. Beckman, who I will work closely with over the next two years.”

The Honorable Judge Stephanie L. Beckman was elected to serve as assistant chief judge of the Eighth Judicial District. She was appointed to the bench in December 2012. Judge Beckman earned her juris doctorate degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 2003. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Hamline University in 1999. She is chambered in the Meeker County Courthouse in Litchfield, Minnesota.

A chief judge of a judicial district exercises general administrative authority over the courts within the district, including assigning judges to serve in locations throughout the district according to Minnesota state statute. The chief judge of each judicial district serves as a member of the Minnesota Judicial Council, the administrative policy-making authority for the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Chief judges and assistant chief judges are elected to two-year terms by the judges within the district. No judge may serve as chief judge or assistant chief judge for more than two consecutive two-year terms. New two-year terms begin on July 1.

About Minnesota’s Eighth Judicial District

The Eighth Judicial District consists of the counties of Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wilkin, and Yellow Medicine. Despite covering thirteen counties, by population, the district is the smallest in Minnesota. Eleven judges serve the district. In 2017, more than 24,000 cases were filed in Eighth Judicial District courts.