Judge Nelson was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, and graduated from Kofa high School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University in 1991 and a juris doctor from the University of Idaho in 1994.
He joined the Yuma County Attorney’s Office in 1995. He was the Yuma City Prosecutor for a short time before returning to the County Attorney’s Office in 1998. From 2001 until he was appointed to the bench by Governor Doug Ducey in 2016, he served as the Chief Criminal Deputy County attorney.
Judge Nelson has been active in the community over the last 20 years. He is the former president of the Friends of the Library and past board chairman of the Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma. He and his wife, Sonnet, are the proud parents of three children.