Appointed in 2004 as a Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice, he had previously served as a Judge in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
After graduating with honors from Gustavus Adolphus College, he attended the University of Minnesota Law School and subsequently worked as a lawyer in both Hutchinson and Fairmont, Minnesota.
For more than two decades, he hosted a Minnesota Public Television program called Your Legislators.
He was born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota. He later married and became a father of three children.
During his 2012 Minnesota Supreme Court re-election campaign, he defeated one-time United States Senator Dean Barkley, ending up with nearly fifty-nine percent of the total vote.