Kevin Burke’s official title is District Judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota, but he is much more than that: one of the most recognized leaders within the American judiciary today.
During Judge Burke’s four terms as Chief Judge and three terms as Assistant Chief Judge of the Hennepin County Courts, he instituted social science studies – and reforms improving – procedural fairness in the court system, in ways that enhance public respect for and confidence in our judicial system itself. Among his achievements are serving as the Chair of the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges and of the State Board of Public Defense. He was a leader in the effort to improve and expand the Minnesota’s public defender system, a vital link in the public’s perception of fairness in criminal proceedings.
Judge Burke has been recognized by his peers for extraordinary leadership and creativity. He was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the history of Minnesota by that state’s Law & Politics magazine. In 1996 he received the Toll Fellowship, which identifies emerging leaders from all three branches of state government across the United States. In 1997 he received the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 2002 the National Center for State Courts awarded him its Distinguished Service Award. In 2003 he was selected as the William H. Rehnquist Award recipient by the National Center for State Courts. The Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness and professional ethics. He was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine in 2004. In 2005 the Minnesota Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates named him Trial Judge of the Year. The American Bar Association named him Judicial Educator of the year in 2010.
Judge Burke teaches at the University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas law schools. For many years he served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute’s Reflective Leadership Program. Currently, Judge Burke is teaching the principles of neuro-literacy to judges across the U.S. and elsewhere; he has been a speaker in 38 states as well as Abu Dhabi, Canada, Egypt, Mexico, China, India and Ireland regarding improvement in judicial administration and court leadership.
Judge Burke has authored numerous articles, including (as co-author) two American Judges Association White Papers, “Procedural Fairness: A Key Ingredient in Public Satisfaction” and “Minding the Court: Enhancing the Decision-Making Process.” He presently serves on the Board of the Institute for the Reform of the American Legal System. He is a past Board member of the National Center for State Courts and the American Judicature Society.
Few can equal Judge Burke’s commitment to improving the legal system in ways that affect ordinary people, and few can equal the range of his intellectual interests or his contributions to bringing our court system into the 21st Century. ILI is privileged to welcome Judge Burke to the Integrative Law Institute’s Advisory Board.