I had submitted my application to succeed Judge Bull on the Sibley County District Court bench. I was named one of three finalists and was waiting to hear Governor Perpich’s decision. I knew from other recently appointed judges that sometimes the Governor interviewed his finalists and other times just made the decision and informed the candidate.
Patty and I were home one January evening. Our children were at school. I had just commented that we should be hearing a decision soon, as the necessary background checks should have been completed, when the telephone rang.
“Is this Thomas McCarthy?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Is this the Thomas McCarthy who is an attorney at law?”
“Yes it is.”
“Hello, Thomas. This is Rudy Perpich calling.”
The heart rate about tripled! The governor wanted to meet with me the next day. He invited me to come to the Governor’s Mansion at 7:00 a.m., before he was to have breakfast with former Governor Orville Freeman. Wow!
I walked into the other room and told Patty, “I don’t know if this is an interview or if he is going to tell me I have the appointment, but you and the kids are going with me to meet the Governor tomorrow morning!” I really didn’t know if this would help or hurt, but if I were going to be a judge, it was a decision that affected the entire family.
And so it was that shortly before 7 a.m. the next day, we were ushered into the mansion to meet the Governor.
Governor Perpich was a gracious host. We talked for perhaps 20 minutes – and I didn’t know whether this was an interview or an announcement until he picked up a pen and signed a photograph, “Congratulations, Judge McCarthy!”
I imposed on his staff to take a few photos with the camera I’d brought along. Fortunately, the Governor had a few more taken with a Polaroid, as it wasn’t till we were home that I realized I’d forgotten to put film in the camera! (For you younger readers, that was something we had to do in the olden days to have photographs!)
When Mark, our fourth-grader at the time, got to school his teacher asked where he’d been. “We were at the Governor’s house! My dad is going to be a judge!” To which his teacher replied, “Mark, really, where have you been?”
Next Week: Taking the Oath