My name is Tom Handley I’m running for Ramsey County District Court Judge, I have the experience, balance and work ethic to immediately step in and do the job. My extensive experience as a lawyer has prepared me for this challenge. I have no sponsors or benefactors; I am not asking for or accepting any financial donations from any source. As a result, I can render decisions without fear or favor.

Many public defenders have served with distinction on the bench and a number are on the bench now. I would follow the law and all persons who came before the Court would be treated with the same dignity and respect.

“Be The Change”: Judges are appointed by the Governor based on recommendations from people who are also appointed and virtually unknown to the public. These Judges run unopposed for their entire career. I am running for this seat because I know I can do a better job. For the past twenty eight years I have represented people from all walks of life; that have no money, no voice and I have fought for them without regard to their race, gender, ethnicity or social status. I have fought for them the same way I will fight for you and the rule of law as a Judge in this community. 

I am also a member of the recovery community which gives me helpful insights into every aspect of this process that I would not otherwise have. It means that I work daily on the emotional balance any Judge needs to effectively do their job.

80 % of the cases a Ramsey County Judge hears are criminal cases. How can people be appointed to a seat on the bench with little or no trial experience? Smoke filled rooms are not the best way to pick Judges. In the months leading up to this election let me make the case that I am right choice for this job.


90 jury trials

(95 total trials) five of them trials to the court or bench trials

65 trials in Ramsey County District Court

2 appeals with oral argument to the Minnesota Court of Appeals


Falvey Award Ramsey County 2011 an award by the Ramsey County Public Defenders Office for achievement and leadership

One of three finalists for attorney of the year State of Colorado Public Defender’s Office 1996

Attorney of the year Denver Regional Office 1996


  • Bachelor of Arts Metropolitan State College of Denver 1984
  • Paralegal Degree Denver Paralegal institute 1987
  • Juris Doctorate Hamline University School of Law 1990


  • Numerous contested motion hearings regarding search and seizure and all issues related to the United States, Colorado and Minnesota Constitutions.
  • Experience with all issues related to speedy trial on the state and Federal level.
  • Have litigated Brady and other exculpatory evidence issues.
  • Extensive forensic DNA training through the BCA and public defender systems.
  • Have done my own cross- examination of DNA experts since 2012.
  • Have extensive experience cross examining experts in forensic DNA / gun shot residue / fingerprints / ballistics / and other forensic disciplines.
  • Extensive training, knowledge and courtroom experience litigating issues regarding Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
  • Extensive training and real world application of the Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure.
  • Extensive training and experience in immigration issues as it relates to state court.
  • Have jury trial experience with cases that require interpreters
  • Have tried cases with clients facing serious immigration consequences on the Federal level on relatively minor state charges because of the serious consequences clients faced Federally.
  • Did more that just advise clients of immigration consequences, actually tried to do something about it by trying their cases.
  • Extensive training and real world application in jury selection law and its application including making and defending Batson and Reverse Batson challenges (racial/gender discrimination in the jury selection process).
  • Experience with juror and prosecutorial misconduct.
  • Have extensive experience with jury questions and jury deliberations.
  • Have extensive experience with jury and witness sequestration issues.
  • Understand ethical issues in particular conflicts of interest and have stood up for my clients and myself regarding these issues.
  • Have experience dealing with high profile cases with media attention.

Tom Doesn't Back Down

As a Public Defender, Tom battled Judge Hufnagel for her impariality for two years before she banned him from her courtroom. Ultimately she was removed from the bench. Read the article by Alan Prendergast HERE.

Tom Works Tirelessly

Trying two cases in one week and getting a NOT GUILTY verdict on both is no easy task, but Tom made it happen.


State v. Novicky 2006

This was a case that involved the Metro Gang Strike Force. I raised concerns in this case regarding the strike force before it was revealed there were major problems with the Metro Gang Strike Force. The Gang Strike Force was disbanded in 2009.

I also moved to suppress evidence of a warrantless search of a cell phone and the issue was raised on appeal years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a warrant was required to search a cell phone.

State v. Raleigh 2007

Murder of Ramsey County Probation Officer Howard Porter

Stood my ground on the ethical issues presented by The Ramsey County Public Defender’s office, the Court and the prosecution being involved in the prosecution of Howard Porter’s murderer. It was a conflict of interest for all of us to be involved in this case.

Based on my efforts the case was dismissed in Ramsey County and re-filed in Hennepin County

State v. Hoard 2008

Raised concerns regarding Saint Paul Crime Lab in 2008.

This was a case where the drugs seized from the defendant were not admitted into evidence. The reasoning from the crime lab was: they had the drugs but chose not to bring them to Court.

The defendant was convicted, we moved for a new trial, appealed the verdict and did a petition for review to the Minnesota Supreme court in 2010.

In 2012 the Saint Paul Crime Lab was disbanded based on their methods and practices.

State v. Cha Yang 2011

Criminal Sexual Conduct case dismissed.

Immigrant Asian client falsely accused of rape dismissed on the day of trial based on the investigation we conducted.

This person was factually 100 percent innocent of these charges.

State v. Brown. 2012

African American client falsely accused of raping a white woman and was extradited here from Florida based on a DNA hit.

Became clear the alleged victim was not telling the truth about being brutally raped by a stranger. We found cell phone records that showed the alleged victim and Mr. Brown had talked and texted each other the night of the alleged assault, there was no sexual assault.

This client was also 100 percent Not Guilty if we had not found those phone records he might have received many years in prison. The case was dismissed prior to trial. 

State v. Haywood 2016

I tried the case that lead to the finding by the Minnesota Supreme Court that a BB gun was not a firearm. The result was based on the work of many people, but I played an important role.

Personal Life

Tom has three adult children, all in the Twin Cities, and a brand new Grandchild born in July 2018. He has a cat, Ms. Kitty, and dog Amelie, who double as his life coaches and campaign advisors. He enjoys golf and history; specifically U.S, baseball and military.


Tom is also a member of the recovery community which gives him helpful insights into every aspect of the legal process that he would not otherwise have. And a fun fact: Tom was written into a play by a former client of his who found recovery himself. It's a testament to the impact Tom had on his life and to the power of recovery.