St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin to retire next month

The County Board will be tasked with selecting a replacement for the man who has served in the office since the 1970s and led it since 2011.

Mark Rubin

St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin will retire Sept. 30 after more than four decades in public service, he announced Monday.

Rubin was first elected as the county's top prosecutor and legal representative in 2010, twice running unopposed for reelection. He had already indicated his current term, set to expire in January 2023, would be his final.

"Forty-three years is enough," he wrote in a letter to county commissioners Monday. "I am going to join my wife, Nancy, in retirement at the end of September."

The County Board will need to appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy of the final 15 months of the term, as the position is next on the ballot in November 2022. The appointment process is expected to be discussed by commissioners at their Tuesday meeting in Virginia.

"Mark has been such a trusted resource and public servant," County Administrator Kevin Gray said. "I have always valued his perspectives because I know they are rooted in experience, as well as compassion and connectiveness to the community.


"Beyond his litigation skills and commitment to justice, which made him so effective in his role as county attorney, he is a gifted writer, speaker and musician, and I will miss the depth of talent he brought to every discussion we had."

FILE: Mark Rubin
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin talks outside the county courthouse in Duluth on Sept. 2, 2020, about changes to court proceedings since the COVID-19 pandemic forced hearings to move primarily online. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Rubin, who turns 67 later this month, told the News Tribune that it was "truly the right time" to step down, saying there were no unusual circumstances that went into the decision and preemptively dispelling any notion that he could seek another office.

"I was just waiting for the right moment," he said.

Rubin, who was raised in Duluth's Smithville neighborhood and graduated from Morgan Park High School, first joined the county attorney's office as an intern in 1975 while attending the College of St. Scholastica. He went on to attend what was then known as Hamline University School of Law, and was hired by then-County Attorney Keith Brownell after graduating in 1978.

He quickly found the spotlight, joining chief prosecutor John DeSanto on the case of Marjorie Caldwell , who would be acquitted of her alleged role in the infamous Glensheen killings after one of the longest and most-publicized trials in Minnesota history.

Other than a two-year stint in private practice in the late 1980s, Rubin continued his career as a highly visible prosecutor under longtime County Attorney Alan Mitchell, taking part in more than 250 district court jury trials and over 50 appeals. After Mitchell was unseated by Melanie Ford in 2006, Rubin decided to run against his new boss, winning the top job four years later.


FILE: St. Louis County law library dedication
Former St. Louis County Attorney Alan Mitchell, left, and current County Attorney Mark Rubin share a laugh in the Duluth courthouse's law library as it was renamed in Mitchell’s honor on Aug. 5, 2014. Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

As county attorney, he has been involved in efforts to create diversion programs for low-level offenders and address truancy issues, along with advocating for survivors of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. He more recently served as a member of a statewide working group that analyzed and made recommendations on the use of deadly force by police officers.

He has been honored on numerous occasions, including with the Jules Gernes Minnesota State Bar Association Prosecutor Award for Excellence in 2011 and the M.A. Johnson Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota County Attorneys Association in 2020.

But his tenure hasn't been entirely without controversy, as seen in early 2019 when he hired his son, Tony Rubin, to serve as a prosecutor. The decision led to criticism from some members of the community and Rubin's own staff, with county commissioners responding by adopting an anti-nepotism policy .

In his Monday letter to commissioners, Rubin thanked numerous people, including county attorney staff, area law enforcement, his family and the citizens of St. Louis County.

"From pioneering collaborative work with survivors of both child and adult sexual abuse/assault, to going the extra mile for women subjected to domestic abuse, to the collaboration that resulted in the creation of the First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center, to groundbreaking collaborative work in bringing fairness and justice to pretrial release decisions in the Racial Justice Improvement Project, to representing all of my fellow Minnesota county attorneys on the Attorney General's/Commissioner of Public Safety Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters, our dreams of a better world have come closer to reality time after time," he wrote.


FILE: Rubin sworn in.jpg
Judge John DeSanto, left, administers the oath of office to St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin at the Depot in Duluth on Jan. 1, 2011. Nancy Rubin, center, looks on. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

The county attorney's office has a staff of 68 people working across three divisions in offices at the courthouses in Duluth, Virginia and Hibbing, as well as the Government Services Center in Duluth.

The criminal division is responsible for prosecution of all felonies in the county, along with certain gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors, petty misdemeanors and ordinance violations. The office also maintains a staff to handle victim and witness services.

The civil division represents the county, its departments and employees in various litigation, along with dispensing advice to the County Board and assisting in the drafting of various documents and policies.

The public health and human services division is responsible for a range of matters, including child protection, juvenile court matters, child support enforcement and civil commitment proceedings for people who are mentally ill or chemically dependent.

Read Rubin's full resignation letter:

News Tribune staff writer Adelle Whitefoot contributed to this report.


This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. Aug. 9 with additional information on Rubin's career and retirement announcement. It was originally posted at 12:35 p.m. Aug. 9.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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