About Judge Brown
Judge Brown has been a Ramsey County District Court judge for over two years. In that time, he:
- presided over hundreds of criminal cases.
- was appointed by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice to be the Second District representative to the Judicial Weighted Caseload Advisory Committee.
- was selected by his peers to serve as co-chair of the Minnesota District Judges Association Pension & Benefits Committee.
- is a member of the Ramsey County Court & Corrections Committee.
Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Brown worked as Deputy of the four criminal divisions in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, a position he held from 2012 – 2020.
He started in that office as a law clerk in 1985, 36 years ago, expecting to stay only for the summer before moving on to private law. What he discovered was a passion for public service and a drive to make sure justice was administered fairly to all citizens.
Child Protection & Domestic Abuse
In his first position as a Child Protection lawyer, he learned the complexities of dealing with serious cases of abuse and neglect. Later, in the criminal division, he tried several homicides but specialized in child abuse and domestic abuse cases. The victims were often being asked to talk about and relive some of the worst days of their lives which taught Judge Brown the need for humility, compassion, and sensitivity.
As Judge Brown gained experience, he worked to improve the justice system as a whole by training prosecutors, police officers, judges and victim advocates on ethics, trial skills, evidence, and constitutional law. Prior to becoming a judge, he had given over 70 such presentations nationally and locally and did it pro bono because he felt it is part of his duty as a public servant to ensure that the right thing is done, for both the victim and the accused, in each case.
He was an appellate attorney for over 10 years. where he represented the record fairly, applied the law conscientiously, conceded error when necessary, and advocated for policy changes where needed.
- Minnesota Supreme Court: Over 25 appeals with oral argument.
- Minnesota Court of Appeals: Over 125 appeals with over 25 oral arguments.
- Federal Court: 23 federal habeas petitions in federal district court. One case with oral argument in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Prior to taking the bench, Judge Brown served as a legislative liaison for four years working on key legislation that included:
- protection for vulnerable adults.
- one of the first laws in the country that permitted judges to consider military service when sentencing veterans
- expungement reform.
Doing The Right Thing
As deputy for the criminal divisions, he worked to make sure that every prosecution was justly brought and ethically conducted. In addition to leading the effort to institute formal training on “Doing the Right Thing” which includes the obligations of prosecutors to turn over Brady evidence to the defense, he also instituted a procedure to affirmatively find and disclose to the defense relevant evidence of police discipline.
Data Dashboard and Transparency
In his prior position, Judge Brown oversaw efforts to be more transparent through creation of a public, real-time dashboard for the criminal divisions that included race and gender data. He also worked closely with the bench, public defenders, corrections, and law enforcement to reduce unnecessary pre-trial incarceration as part of a larger effort to reduce racial disparity.
His prior experience also included led the effort to implement automatic expungement for people who successfully complete the felony diversion program and remain law abiding. In response to concerns about racial disproportion, he worked with the juvenile division to expand post-charge diversion opportunities. He also led a pilot project with our Juvenile Division manager, the Legal Rights Center, and the International Association of Trial Lawyers to significantly expand the use of Restorative Justice principles in diversion programming.
FOCUS ON VETERANS
Judge Brown has been active in protecting the rights of our veterans as they return from serving our country and become involved in the criminal justice system.
Hennepin County was the first in Minnesota to have a problem solving Veterans Court. As Deputy County Attorney, Judge Brown worked to expand the use of Veterans Court in felony cases to give those who honorably served our nation a second chance through expanded probation and treatment resources.
Not every county has the resources to operate a Veterans Court. Before taking the bench, Judge Brown was an active member of the Veterans Defense Project Working Group to pass the Veterans Restorative Justice Act. The bipartisan act was finally passed and signed into law by Governor Walz in 2021. http://veteransdefenseproject.org/vrja-news/
You can see Judge Brown’s comments on this issue before he joined the bench here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_5UqLI84KM
Judge Brown is an active volunteer with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon – Hugo and is proud to be able to support our active duty soldiers.
JUDGE BROWN’S AWARDS
Champions of Change
Hennepin County 2017
Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Initiative
Leaders in Public Policy
Law and Politics 2012
Vulnerable Adult Legislation
Distinguished Faculty Award
National District Attorneys Association 2006
Steven von Reisen Lecturer of Merit
National District Attorneys Association 2002
JUDGE BROWN’S TEACHING EXPERIENCE
University of Minnesota Law School
Adjunct Professor, Criminal Prosecution Appeals (2012, 2013)
Adjunct Professor, Domestic Violence Investigations (2007)
Naval Justice School
Trial Advocacy School (2001)
Minnesota CLE – Criminal justice Institute
Lecturer (2006, 2009)
Minnesota County Attorneys Association
Lecturer (2005, 2010, 2011)
- Minnesota: Ramsey County Attorney’s Office (2012): St. Louis County Attorney’s Office (2013)
- Other States: Alaska (2010); Hawaii (2015); Idaho (2003); Iowa – (2008, 2011); Kentucky (2017, 2019); Maryland (2015); Missouri – (2008); and Utah (2007).
National District Attorneys Association
- National Conference on Domestic Violence: Presentations to prosecutors, judges, and victim advocates (2001- 2011)
- Evidence for Prosecutors (2013, 2014, 2015)
- Trial Advocacy (2013, 2014)