Judge Dawson was confirmed by the United States Senate in May 2000 and took the oath of office on July 7, 2000. He assumed senior status on July 9, 2012. He received his undergraduate degree in 1968 from Weber State College in Ogden, Utah, where he attended on athletic and music scholarships. After graduating from the University of Utah Law School in 1971, he clerked for Judge James Guinan in the Second Judicial District Court.

Judge Dawson was Henderson City Attorney between 1972 and 1979. During that time, he was instrumental in creation of the Henderson Public Improvement Trust, an issuer of tax-exempt bonds. Judge Dawson represented the city in attracting Ethel M. Chocolates, Levi Strauss, Breyer’s Ice Cream, and many other businesses. He was also instrumental in the first issuance of industrial development bonds for the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. The infrastructure for the master-planned communities of Lake at Las Vegas, Green Valley Ranch, McDonald Ranch and Seven Hills was financed with tax exempt bonds during his tenure. Those communities were the driving force behind Henderson becoming one of the fastest growing large cities in the United States for several years. Judge Dawson served as legal counsel for the Trust until he became a full-time judge.

Judge Dawson was in private practice from 1979 until 1995 where he focused primarily in civil law. He was recognized by the Clark County Pro Bono Project for Outstanding Contribution by a Law Firm. In 1995 he was appointed Justice of the Peace for Henderson and subsequently elected to a six-year term. Judge Dawson was for many years an elected officer and director of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, having served as President and having received the “Member of the Year” award. During his tenure as President, Judge Dawson collaborated with Judge Stephen Dahl, Attorney Ben Graham, and Senator Jon Porter to secure a resolution endorsing the passage of an attorney/judge’s bill in the State Legislature. This statute mandates that candidates for judicial office in large cities must hold membership in the State Bar. In 2009, he received the City of Henderson Mike O’Callaghan Public Sector Person of the Year Award for outstanding service and advancement of the City’s economic development goals. From 2013 through 2020, Judge Dawson served on the U.S. Judicial Conference Court Security Committee where he was chairperson of the Operations and Technology subcommittee.

He has donated his time in the creation of numerous charitable and community organizations. He has also been licensed as a private pilot with instrument and multiengine ratings. He is admitted to practice in Utah and Nevada.