Judge Burke served 36 years as a District Court Judge in Hennepin County. Minnesota. He presided over civil, criminal, family and mental health cases. He was elected for four terms as Chief Judge and three terms as Assistant Chief Judge. From 1991-1996 he served as the Chair of the Conference of Chief Judges.
He originated the groundbreaking drug court that opened in 1997 that steered defendants into intensive court-supervised treatment rather than prison and served as the model for Driving Under the Influence and Veterans’ courts, and he advocated for the creation of the Hennepin County mental health court as well.
Burke coauthored the American Judges Association’s white paper on procedural fairness in 2007. Since then, he and his coauthor, former Kansas Judge and law professor Steve Leben, have made presentations on procedural fairness to more than 3,000 state, federal and Canadian judges.
In 2003, he was given the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence by the National Center for State Courts. The Rehnquist Award is presented annually to one state judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness and professional ethics. He is the eighth of only twenty four judges in the country who have received this prestigious award.
The magazine Law & Politics named him one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the history of the State of Minnesota. In 2004, Governing Magazine named him Public Official of the Year.
In 2005, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates named him trial judge of the year. In 1997, he received the Director's Community Leadership award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He teaches at the law schools of the University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas. He also served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey's Institute of Public Affairs Reflective Leadership program.
Kevin Burke earned his B.A. in Political Science and J.D. from the University of Minnesota. He began his career as a public defender and also worked in private practice before being appointed in 1994 to the bench.
IAALS, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
American Judicature Society
American Judges Association, past President and current Treasurer
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, University of Denver, Board of Advisors
National Center for State Courts
Justice System Journal, Editorial Board
State Board of Public Defense, Member and Chair
Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Trial Court Financing
Governor’s Advisory Council on State/Local Relations, Trial Court/Public Defender Finance Committee
State of Minnesota Task Force on Juvenile Programming, Evaluation and Planning
Metropolitan Council Criminal Justice Advisory Committee
Metropolitan Health Board
Legal Rights Center, Inc.
Federal Public Defender Panel
ABA Death Row Representation Project