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Knutsen named district judge in Granite Falls

GRANITE FALLS -- Chippewa County Attorney Dwayne Knutsen has been named as a District Court judge.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty stopped in Granite Falls this afternoon to announce Knutsen's appointment as the District Court judge chambered in Granite Falls. The judgeship was vacated by the retirement of Bruce Christopherson at the end of 2009.

The state Commission on Judicial Selection had recommended Knutsen, Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson, and former Chippewa County Attorney David Gilbertson for appointment.

In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court certified the need to maintain a judge chambered in Yellow Medicine County. The appointment maintains 11 chambered judges in the Eighth Judicial District, which includes 13 counties from Renville County to Wilkin County.

Knutsen is Pawlenty's 100th judicial nomination in his eight years as governor.

The new judge has been a finalist for a judgeship before. He was one of three finalists, along with District Judge Michael J. Thompson and Yellow Medicine County Attorney Thomas Kramer, for the Kandiyohi County judge seat now held by Thompson. Thompson, who was previously the Meeker County Attorney, was sworn in to the bench in December 2005.

Knutsen, of Montevideo, is an attorney with the Montevideo law firm of Prindle, Maland, Sellner, Stennes, Knutsen and Stermer and is also the Chippewa County attorney. He has been an attorney with the Prindle firm since 1986 and the Chippewa County attorney since 1999. He was also a part-time assistant Eighth Judicial District public defender from 1995 to 1998. Knutsen earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota in 1985 and his bachelor of arts degree from the University of South Dakota at Vermillion in 1973.