Senior Judge Joanne M. Smith
Senior Judge Joanne M. Smith


Appointed by Governor Rudy Perpich on Sept. 13, 1986.  Elected in 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010. 

Retired Oct. 2, 2015.

Appointed and assigned to serve statewide as Senior Judge from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2023.


J.D., honors, Hamline University School of Law, 1977

M.A., highest honors, University of Minnesota-Duluth, 1972

B.A., cum laude, University of Minnesota-Duluth, 1968


Assistant Public Defender- Ramsey County, 1979-1983

Law Clerk (Hon. Allen Oleisky)- Hennepin County Court, 1978-1979

Professional Memberships:

Minnesota Women Elected Officials

Minnesota District Judges Association

National Association of Women Judges

Minnesota State Bar Association

Ramsey County Bar Associations

Community Activities:

Board Member- St. Paul Domestic Abuse Project and Crime Victim-Witness Advisory Board

Volunteer Attorney Advisor- For domestic abuse cases

Former Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Assistant Director- Dayton Halfway House

Board Member- St. Paul Youth Service Bureau

Professional Activities:

Chief Judge- Second Judicial District Court, 1989-1992

Assistant Chief Judge- Second Judicial District Court, 1987-1988

Chair- Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of Criminal Procedure, 1991-2000

Lecturing and Teaching Experience:

From 1979-1981, Judge Smith was an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law. Since then, she has lectured frequently at local high schools on topics such as, the judicial system, the legal process, and women in law.

Additional Information:

Judge Smith was the first woman ever to be elected Chief Judge of a judicial district in the state of Minnesota.