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Attorneys of the Year: Judge Donovan Frank

outstanding serviceThere’s been an identifiable arc to the career of U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank.

It started when Frank, fresh out of law school and newly sober, went to work in the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. Judge Mitchell A. Dubow allowed him to present testimony from the therapist of a 7-year-old victim who would explain what results when a child is sexually assaulted. There was no precedent — Dubow was the first judge in Minnesota to allow the evidence. “Most judges wouldn’t have had the courage to do it, even me,” Frank said.

Two years later, similar expert testimony was used with a teenage victim, and in 2011 it was allowed with an adult. In 1985, Frank became a state court judge in the 6th District and met activist Ellen Pence, who introduced him to Sheila Wellstone. Sen. Paul Wellstone nominated him for the federal bench, to which President Bill Clinton appointed him in 1998.

His new role only increased his commitment to the community and the profession, and he has served on a variety of task forces and boards to address the needs of the minority, disabled and vulnerable population. He is also a reliable resource for lawyers and judges struggling with chemical dependency.

“It all made me a better person and a better judge,” he said.

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