Thirty five years ago, Lucinda Jesson (most people just call her “Cindy”) moved to Minnesota to practice law. She grew up in Arkansas and went to law school on the east coast, but once she arrived in Minnesota, Lucinda Jesson knew she could end her cross-country quest. Those Minnesota values fit: a state that values hard work and caring for neighbors. And she loves the Minnesota outdoors and relishes its rich cultural offerings (Cindy plays the clarinet, though she would say not very well). So Lucinda Jesson joined the Oppenheimer Law Firm, which is now Fox Rothschild LLP.
Lucinda’s father worried that she would become (in small town Arkansas terms) a “tall building lawyer.” Well, her first office was in the IDS in Minneapolis, so Brad Jesson had that right. Lucinda enjoyed her business litigation practice (with an emphasis on employment law and complex litigation) and earned a partnership with the firm. She tried a number of cases – both for plaintiffs and defendants. And as she dove into her work, she dove into the legal community. In fact, at a bar convention meeting in Duluth, she fell for her husband of 32 years: Peter Knapp.
Judge Jesson has had a full life outside the law, including a happy marriage to Peter Knapp, and four sons: Brad, Chris, Nathan and John. From the earliest part of her career, Judge Jesson was active in a host of community activities: United Way, Supreme Court Task Forces, Chairing the MSBA’s Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct and the Governing Council of the Health Law Section, Sunday School teacher at Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Board Member for Stratis Health, to name a few.
“She brings a creative flair to the job,
she doesn’t back away from tough issues …”
Pioneer Press, October 10, 2015
But each of us has a calling. And after ten years Judge Jesson knew she had to follow hers to public service. She joined the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office where, in a few years, she became Deputy Attorney General for Attorney General Skip Humphrey. Her trial experience expanded. So did her areas of expertise – especially when it came to improving our health care system. Five years later, she joined then-county attorney Amy Klobuchar as Chief Deputy Hennepin County Attorney. In this role, Judge Jesson experienced areas of the law unseen by many civil lawyers: child protection, child support, mental health and a vast array of civil matters. Areas of the law that impact so many people in our state.
In 2001, Judge Jesson returned to private practice in St. Paul, where amidst part-time teaching and pro bono work, she litigated and mediated employment and health law matters. In 2006, Judge Jesson joined the faculty at Hamline University School of Law where she founded the nationally ranked Health Law Institute.
Just after the Hamline faculty voted to recommend her for tenure, Governor-elect Mark Dayton asked his transition-team member Lucinda Jesson to become Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services (DHS). DHS is the largest state agency, overseeing services for the most vulnerable Minnesotans. The mission of DHS is to help people meet their basic needs so they can live in dignity and achieve their highest potential. She became the second-longest serving DHS Commissioner in state history—over five years. For a news profile toward the end of her service as commissioner, click here.
And Judge Jesson continues to provide leadership outside of the courtroom across our state. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, which provides services to Minnesotans in all 87 counties. She is also an active board member for Close Gaps by Five, which seeks to address Minnesota’s achievement gaps through high quality early childhood education for low-income children; Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul, which brings together people of faith to relieve the effects of poverty; and Southern Prairie Center for Community Health Improvement, a new nonprofit focused on improving population health in rural southwest Minnesota. Judge Jesson also co-chairs the Minnesota Tribal Court/State Court Forum and serves on the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee for the Minnesota Bar Association. And every week during the school year, she tutors a third grader as a volunteer with Reading Partners.
In January 2016, following her appointment by Governor Dayton, Judge Jesson donned her judicial robe and joined the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Since joining the court she has decided around 500 cases and authored more than 150 opinions covering almost every area of the law. She believes in this calling and asks for your support in this election.
Support Judge Jesson
Judge Lucinda Jesson brings broad experience to our justice system, in additional to compassion,
knowledge, and an appreciation for the circumstances of those who appear before us.
She has a track record as a trusted decision-maker.
Add your name today and support her continued service on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.