Judge Donovan Frank was just an average student at his Spring Valley, Minn., high school in 1969, and back then average meant college wasn’t necessarily in the picture. His guidance counselor even recommended Donovan choose vocational school instead of college.
Luckily, his parents placed a very high value on education, and Donovan enrolled at Luther, graduating in 1973—magna cum laude—with a political science major. He then studied law at Hamline Law School and received a juris doctorate—magna cum laude—in 1977, graduating third in his class.
Donovan began his legal career in northern Minnesota, serving eight years as the assistant St. Louis County attorney. In 1985 he was appointed to the state district court bench and served as the chief judge of the sixteen-judge Sixth Judicial District from 1991 to 1996, earning the respect of colleagues and staff members along the way. In 1998 Judge Frank was appointed as federal district judge, United States District Court in Minnesota, and is chambered in St. Paul.
According to Judge Frank, “There’s no such thing as a small case or an unimportant case to a citizen or a litigant. Citizens want equal access and treatment and need to be treated with dignity and respect.”
He has an impressive judicial record. In Judge Frank’s many years of service in the state judicial system, not a single decision was reversed on appeal to the state Supreme Court. In addition to his prudent judgment, excellent analysis, good common sense, and integrity, Judge Frank is known for his strong sense of community, friendliness, and approachability.
In 1996 he was named Trial Judge of the Year by the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges; in 2006 he received the Elaine R. "Boots" Fisher Award at the annual Federal Bar Association Convention for his outstanding public service and dedication to diversity in the legal community. He has served as an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law and a judicial faculty member for Minnesota Supreme Court continuing education. Over the years, Judge Frank has worked on numerous task forces and committees dedicated to diversity awareness, disability issues, drug education programs, and domestic abuse issues, including the “Open Doors to Federal Courts” program, which has the goal of communicating the significance of the Bill of Rights to high school juniors and seniors. Judge Frank is currently serves as the 2010-11 resident of the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and as Chair of the National Federal Bar Association’s Diversity Committee.
Judge Frank explains, “I like to work and I like making a difference. I like having as my guide the public interest and the interest of justice.”
Judge Donovan Frank is married to Luther alumna Kathy (Jacobson) Frank ’74; they have 5 daughters.