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Judge Leonardo Castro
Judge Leonardo Castro

Bar Buzz: Castro wins 2nd District chief judge post

Judge Leonardo Castro will be the next chief judge of the Ramsey County District Court.

Castro was elected by his peers to take over for Chief Judge John Guthmann, who wraps up his second consecutive two-year term as chief at the end of June. Judges can’t serve as chief or assistant chief judge for more than two consecutive terms.

“It is an honor to have earned the confidence of my esteemed colleagues,” Castro said in a May 19 press release. “I look forward to taking on this important leadership role, while mindful of the challenges ahead.”

Before he does that, Castro will continue serving as assistant chief judge. He won that post in a special election, after former Assistant Chief Judge Jennifer L. Frisch moved up to the state Court of Appeals in March.

At the same time Castro was elected chief, 2nd District Court Judge Sara R. Grewing was elected assistant chief judge. She will replace Castro in that role on July 1, 2020.

“I thank Chief Judge Guthmann for his service to the district and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work closely with Judge Grewing, my colleagues and court staff, as we chart our course in these uncertain times,” Castro said.

Castro was appointed to the bench in 2012. He earned his juris doctorate from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 1992. Before he became a judge, he was a public defender in the state’s 4th and 5th Judicial Districts. He also served two enlisted terms in the U.S. Air Force.

While serving as chief judge over the last four years, Guthmann is credited with strengthening the bench’s working relationship with the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners by creating a County/Court Committee.

He also chaired the new Treatment Court Steering Committee and led efforts to establish the district’s Housing Court Clinic.

Castro will be the first Hispanic ever to serve as chief judge in the state’s 2nd Judicial District. According to Judicial Branch research, he might be the state’s first-ever Hispanic District Court chief judge.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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