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Judge Leonardo Castro elected Chief Judge of Second Judicial District

Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Judge Sara R. Grewing elected assistant chief judge

Judge Leonardo Castro has been elected to serve as the next chief judge of the Second Judicial District by his fellow judges in the District. On July 1, 2020, he will assume responsibility from Chief Judge John H. Guthmann, who will have served two consecutive two-year terms as chief judge. Judge Castro was also elected in a special election to serve as assistant chief judge from May 13, 2020, through June 30, 2020. The special election came as a result of the vacancy created following Second Judicial District Assistant Chief Judge Jennifer L. Frisch being appointed to the Court of Appeals. Judge Sara R. Grewing has been elected to serve as assistant chief judge, and will assume this responsibility on July 1, 2020, when Judge Castro becomes chief judge.
Chief Judge Guthmann’s leadership strengthened the bench’s working relationship with the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners through the creation of a County/Court Committee. He also chaired the new Treatment Court Steering Committee and led the effort to establish the district’s award winning Housing Court Clinic.
Judge Castro will be the first Hispanic chief judge to serve the Second Judicial District. Based on Minnesota State Law Library research, he is believed to be the first Hispanic judicial district chief judge in Minnesota.
“It is an honor to have earned the confidence of my esteemed colleagues. I look forward to taking on this important leadership role, while mindful of the challenges ahead,” said Judge Castro. “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.”
Judge Castro was appointed to the bench on June 8, 2012. In 1992, he earned his juris doctorate from Northern Illinois University, College of Law. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he had served as the Chief Public Defender in the Fourth (Hennepin) and Fifth (Southwest Minnesota) judicial districts.  He also served two enlisted terms in the United States Air Force.  
Judge Castro is co-chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s (HNBA) Judicial Division.  He is an adjunct professor at the University of Saint Thomas School of Law, and was awarded the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teacher in 2015. He has earned several other honors in his career, including the Latino Judge of the Year award from the HNBA in 2015; the Distinguished Service Award from Northern Illinois University, College of Law Alumni Council in 2009; and the Career Achievement Award from the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association in 2005.
Judge Sara R. Grewing will serve assistant chief judge for a two-year term beginning July 1, 2020. She was appointed to the bench on February 2, 2015. She earned her juris doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law. Prior to joining the bench, she served as the St. Paul City Attorney, Chief of Staff to the Mayor of St. Paul, State Director to United States Senator Amy Klobuchar, and as an associate attorney at Flaherty and Hood, PA. She serves on the Board of Trustees at Mitchell Hamline School of Law , and has served as a co-chair of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Women Judges. .
“I appreciate the faith my colleagues have placed in me to serve alongside Judge Castro as assistant Chief Judge.  I am grateful for the opportunity to help ensure equal access to justice, and the timely and efficient resolution of all matters for the people we serve,” said Judge Grewing.
According to state statute, the chief judge of a judicial district exercises general administrative authority over the courts within the district, including assigning judges to serve in locations throughout the district. The chief judge of each judicial district also serves as a member of the Minnesota Judicial Council, the administrative policy-making authority for the Minnesota Judicial Branch.
Chief judges and assistant chief judges are elected to two-year terms by judges within the district. No judge may serve as chief judge or assistant chief judge for more than two consecutive two-year terms. New two-year terms begin on July 1.