On February 12, 1988, I stood in front of the judge’s bench in the Sibley County Courtroom, and took the oath of office as a Minnesota District Court Judge. Patty then helped me don the official black robe for the first time. Wow!
The Courtroom was full of family, friends and well-wishers. So full that the judge who administered the oath said that Sheriff Graham must have emptied the jail to get that many people to come! Several judges from the First Judicial District also came to give me their congratulations and warm wishes.
“I, Thomas G McCarthy, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota and to discharge faithfully the duties of a District Court Judge to the best of my judgment and ability, so help me God.”
I was then given the opportunity to make a few remarks. I thanked my parents, of course, who gave me the two best gifts a parent can give: roots and wings. I thanked my first law partner, Everett Young, who not only taught me the value of preparation but more importantly of service to my community. I thanked Governor Perpich for giving me this great opportunity to serve. I thanked my children for their support. And most of all, I thanked Patty. All those meals of macaroni and cheese or Ramen noodles, helping me through law school and starting a law practice – not to mention correcting all my spelling and grammar errors!
I must admit that about the only downside to becoming a judge was the reality that I would not be working with Patty any more. She had agreed to fill in, temporarily, when I needed secretarial help at the law office some 10 years before. Somehow, I never got around to finding a replacement! I know how fortunate that I was, as many husbands absolutely could not work with their spouse, but working with Patty was a joy and she was an absolute asset to me and our law practice.
After the swearing in, we adjourned to the meeting room in the Courthouse Annex basement for punch, coffee and some of Dora Kuester’s great sheet cake. More photos, more congratulations and some mementos, including a small plaque that hangs in my office to this day: “Grow in Wisdom before the Lord.” A sentiment to which every judge should aspire!
I was officially a judge!
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Next week: Mentors