Retired Ramsey County judge and U law alum dies at 68

James Dickinson, a retired Ramsey County District Judge and University of Minnesota Law School alumnus, died Friday morning of pancreatic cancer. He was 68. Dickinson is remembered as a dedicated judge and family man with a high reputation in the legal community. After graduating from the University Law School in 1965, Dickinson began his practice with Stringer and Rohleder in St. Paul where he spent 31 years as an attorney. On April 17, 1997, Gov. Arne Carlson appointed Dickinson to the Second Judicial District bench in Ramsey County, where he served nearly 11 years before retiring on Jan. 1. From 1969 to 1976, Dickinson was also a legal-writing instructor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Suzanne Kvas , a current attorney with Stringer and Rohleder, practiced law with Dickinson for about 13 years. âÄúThe term gentleman comes up quite a bit when JimâÄôs name is mentioned and itâÄôs truly the case,âÄù Kvas said. âÄúHe was just really what I think we all want the profession to be.âÄù DickinsonâÄôs son, Charles , plans to follow in his fatherâÄôs footsteps. Charles Dickinson, a current University Law School student, is set to graduate this spring and will work at a law firm in Washington, D.C. after he passes the bar exam, he said. âÄúHe was the reason I went to law school,âÄù Charles Dickinson said, âÄúand the reason I go to this law school.âÄù He said his father loved the Law School and often said it was the best law school money could buy. Fred Morrison , a law professor at the University, said Dickinson was an active supporter of the Law School over the years. Morrison said he had lunch with Dickinson three months ago. Morrison said while battling cancer, Dickinson was still very âÄúcheeryâÄù and faced it with a âÄúgreat deal of fortitude.âÄù âÄúHe was the epitome of a fine lawyer,âÄù Morrison said. âÄúHe did his job well and served justice well.âÄù Charles Dickinson said a special experience for him and his father came about one week before he died. âÄúWhen he found out he was sick, he made it a goal to make it to my graduation,âÄù Charles Dickinson said. But when James Dickinson realized he wouldnâÄôt reach that day, he set a new goal to attend his sonâÄôs first oral argument to the Minnesota Court of Appeals , which he did on Nov. 13. It was James DickinsonâÄôs last trip out of the house. âÄúIt was just incredible. I was smiling ear to ear when I saw him walk into that courtroom,âÄù Charles Dickinson said. âÄúI just knew that it made him proud, and in my opinion, thereâÄôs no better compliment than to say that I made him proud.âÄù Dickinson was also involved with the Minnesota Landmark Center from 1976 to 1997. Amy Mino , the executive director at the Landmark Center, said Dickinson presided over her marriage ceremony, was very committed and had a strong sense of fairness and honesty. Dickinson is survived by his wife, Alice, sons Charles and James Jr., daughters Susan and Mary and three grandchildren, Sam, Will and Charlotte. The funeral service will be held on Dec. 1 at Olivet Congregational Church in St. Paul.