Wednesday, January 1, 2014


This week, we celebrate the New Year.  2014 is upon us.

At this time of year, resolutions are the norm.  I will, likely, make resolutions similar to many I have made in the past:  I will lose 10 pounds.  I will exercise on a regular basis.

The Minnesota Court System has “resolutions”, too, although, they are called “Court Performance Goals.”  As a system, we are asked to resolve certain types of cases (serious criminal, child protection, marriage dissolutions) in a certain length of time.  There are many factors that are not in the control of the judge or administration which may prevent us from attaining those goals, but they are the goal to which we all aspire. 

In 2007, the Minnesota Judicial Council established those court performance goals and a process for monitoring progress toward meeting those goals.  According to the 2014-2015 Priorities and Strategies for Minnesota’s Judicial Branch, performance goals are necessary to ensure accountability of the judicial branch, improve overall operations of the court and enhance the public’s trust and confidence in the judiciary. 

My professional resolutions should be to act so that I will contribute to meeting the State Court system goals.

This is a special New Year for me, as it is the last I will preside as a full time judge in Minnesota.  So, I will propose for myself a unique resolution.  I wish I could take credit for the original thought, but I heard it of a different profession at one of my annual spiritual retreats:

Judge today as if it were your first day on the bench.

Judge today as if it were your last day on the bench.

Judge today as if your reputation as a judge depends solely on how you judge this day.

To fulfill this resolution, I will have to be mindfully aware of what I am doing each day as a judge.  I cannot be distracted by the Lions meeting or Lodge meeting that night.  I cannot even daydream about what I may do in a few months when I no longer take the bench on a daily basis.

I know that I will not be able to maintain this concentration each and every minute of each and every day, but I will make an attempt to give my attention to the issue before me at all times.  And I pledge, each drive home after work, to review my day to see how close I came to meeting my resolution.

Happy New Year.

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Next Week:  An Oath for the Mayor