Isanti County Judge James Dehn retires after 30 years
An Isanti County judge who is a nationally respected pioneer in drunken driving preventative programs is retiring after 30 years of service to the state of Minnesota.
Judge James Dehn, who has been chambered in Isanti County since taking the oath of office on June 26, 1987, is retiring after exactly 30 years of service, on June 26, 2017.
Dehn is looking forward to his retirement.
“My wife, Kathy, and I are both very excited about this,” Dehn said. “We just bought a new RV and have trips planned to drive out to Anchorage and Disney World, and are looking forward to spending more time with our children and seven grandchildren.”
On June 29, Dehn will receive an Alumni of Notable Achievement award from his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. He was nominated for the award by his judicial law clerk of 27 years, Valerie Anderson.
“Judge Dehn is a kind compassionate boss, just as he is a kind compassionate judge. He always treats everyone in the courtroom respectfully, whether they are the attorneys, court personnel, litigants or defendants. He loves to connect with people. I think he is leaving a great legacy,” Anderson said.
“His staggered sentencing program has touched so many people’s lives in very positive ways,” Anderson said. “The amazing successes people have through his staggered program have saved many lives. Not just the lives of those who would have been victims of drunk driving but the lives of the defendants themselves as they have turned to positive changes in their lives, making improvements that make them productive members of society and great sober family members and friends. His slogan-poster contest is fun and always has a great message for the kids. He has loved having high school students visit his courtroom over the years and always would take a break during court to talk with them and explain the legal process. He is very involved with the high school Mock Trial program at all levels and enjoys seeing it to completion each year at the national level. His involvement with Safe Cab and tracking the ‘last place of drink’ has benefited so many people throughout the state.”
In 1993, Dehn became the first judge in the nation to put multiple-repeat DWI offenders on the home pre-trial electronic alcohol-monitoring program. Under the program, reoffenders awaiting trial have an electronic monitor placed in their homes requiring frequent sobriety checks.
This program led to Dehn receiving the Outstanding Judge Award by the Minnesota District Judge’s Association in 2000; the National MADD President’s Award in 1996; and was recognized in the Wall Street Journal on May 24, 1994.