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Federal Judge Rosenbaum ('69) Announces He's Stepping Down

APRIL 23, 2010—James M. Rosenbaum, a U.S. District Court Judge for Minnesota since 1985, has announced his resignation from the federal bench effective August 2010. He had taken senior status in October 2009, the month he turned 65, but had continued to work a full case load.

A St. Paul native, Rosenbaum received his B.A. in 1966 from the University of Minnesota and his J.D. from the Law School in 1969. His first job as an attorney took him to Chicago, where he was as a legal aid attorney trying federal civil rights cases for VISTA. He also was staff attorney with the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities.

He returned to Minneapolis in 1972 and worked in private practice, specializing in trial work, until 1981, when he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed Rosenbaum to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. He served as Chief Judge for the Minnesota district from 2001 until he stepped down from the position in 2008. From 1997-2005, he was the Eighth Circuit’s elected representative to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the Judiciary's governing authority.

Rosenbaum has long been an active force outside the courtroom as well as on the bench. He is on the Advisory Board of the Sedona Conference, a legal community think tank that examines forward-looking principles, best practices, and guidelines in specific areas of the law. He is an advisor for The Green Bag, a quarterly journal of short, useful legal articles, in which he has published several pieces analyzing the intersection of law, privacy, and technology. He continues to lecture widely on legal technology, electronic discovery, and intellectual property issues.

He and his wife, Fourth District Court Judge Marilyn B. Rosenbaum, also have a long history of service and support at the Law School, including volunteer work and annual fund gifts. They are members of the Law School’s Heritage Society, and Rosenbaum is a member of the Law School’s newly created Board of Advisors.

In 2009, four of Rosenbaum’s former law clerks decided to honor and thank him for his years of service and mentorship by establishing the endowed Judge James M. Rosenbaum Scholarship Fund at the Law School. "I’m hopeful that this fund will offer an opportunity to people who wouldn’t have the opportunities I have had," he said when he learned about the scholarship.

Rosenbaum has no plans to end his legal pursuits after his departure from the bench. In an April 13 letter announcing his resignation to his colleagues, he wrote that he plans to "embark on a new career, primarily doing alternative dispute resolution and working on complex legal and discovery matters."

President Obama has nominated U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Richard Nelson to replace Rosenbaum.

Portrait of Judge James Rosenbaum

Hon. James Rosenbaum ('69)