Minneapolis (6-3-03): -- Judge Kevin Burke was chosen as the first recipient of the new professionalism award given to a member of the federal or state bench by members of the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA). The award, presented at the annual meeting of the HCBA, honors the judge "who best exemplifies and encourages the highest level of competence, integrity, ethical conduct, and professionalism in the judicial system."
Elevated to the Bench in 1984, Judge Burke is currently Chief Judge of Hennepin County District Court, a position he has held since July 2000 and which he also held from 1992 through 1996. Often recognized for his contribution to court and community, Burke was praised for many aspects of his work by lawyers writing in support of his nomination. Other organizations have also recognized the judge for his contributions; awards have been given by the National Center for State Courts, the Society of Professional Journalists, U.S. Department of Justice, and many others.
Letters in support of his nomination recognized Burke as "tireless in his contributions to the profession and to legal education" and a "student and teacher of ways of improving the delivery of judicial services." Susan Holden, a past president of the HCBA, noted that "Judge Burke’s dedication to professionalism in the judicial system is matched only by his innovation in court management." Pointing to accomplishments from his development of the Drug Court in the mid 1990s to the recently completed Baldridge Assessment, she states, "He continues to lead the courts in Hennepin County toward their goal of being ‘the best urban court’ in the country."
Noting Burke’s "two extraordinary" recent accomplishments, Clifford Green praised the judge for his cable TV program that introduces the public to the judges and other court personnel and the recent grappling with "the potentially disastrous consequences of state and local budget cuts." His performance has been admirable, writes Greene, "whether in the eye of the camera or in the eye of the budget-cutting storm."
Other supporting letters recognize Burke for his close cooperation with the bar association in redesigning judicial evaluation, openness to new lawyers, his commitment to legal education--whether as an adjunct professor for law students, as a presenter at CLE seminars or as a speaker to the National Center for State Courts--and also his personal modeling of the high standards he espouses.
In addition to receiving the award at the HCBA annual meeting, Judge Burke spoke to bar members about the state of the judiciary, particularly in light of the budget battles during the legislative session. He thanked members of the bar for their active and continuing support for appropriate funding for the courts.
Judge Burke was accompanied to the presentation by his wife, attorney Susan Nolting Burke. They make their home in South Minneapolis.
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