"Judge" James Brown never served on the bench in Minnesota. He earned that moniker after being appointed to the court of common pleas in Indiana where he studied law, practiced and was active in Democratic politics for two decades before moving to Mankato in August 1865.
There he formed a partnership with James Wiswell, and for many years Brown & Wiswell was a leading law firm in Blue Earth County. He was city attorney for two terms, president of the school board and active in Democratic politics. In 1882, when prohibition was a divisive issue in local politics, he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives and served one term.
He died on August 3, 1889, at age sixty-eight. On August 6, 1889, the county bar association passed resolutions honoring him, and they were published in a local newspaper that day.