3rd district judge sworn in

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Freeborn County District Court Judge Ross Leuning, right, speaks with two of the area's other judges Friday after being sworn in as a judge for the 3rd Judicial District. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Vowing to be thorough, fair and timely, Freeborn County’s newest district court judge was sworn in Friday in front of a crowd of more than 100 people.

District Court Judge Ross Leuning said his new position as judge will be demanding, but he will not forget the challenges and experiences he endured as a lawyer.

“This is a happy and long-awaited occasion,” said presiding 3rd Judicial District Chief Judge Robert Benson at the ceremony.

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Benson encouraged Leuning to be respectful of the people appearing in his courtroom and use the golden rule at all times on the bench.

“We’re all very happy to welcome you, and we are very thankful this day has come,” Benson said.

The position has been vacant since former Freeborn County District Court judge John A. Chesterman retired in January. Leuning was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in May, one month after the state’s Commission on Judicial Selection recommended Leuning to the governor.

Leuning’s swearing-in had been postponed because he was completing a tour as command judge advocate for the U.S. Navy at the Al Asad air base in Iraq. He recently returned home.

In addition to his service in the U.S. Navy, Leuning has worked as senior assistant Olmsted County attorney. Prior to that, he was a partner at the law firm of Walbran, Furness & Leuning.

Mark Walbran, one of Leuning’s former associates, said Leuning is no stranger to hard work. He said Leuning was often the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave.

On top of serving as a lawyer, Leuning has been involved in numerous civic organizations, including the Owatonna Library Board, the Owatonna Library Foundation, the Owatonna Human Rights Commission and the Owatonna Healthy Seniors Board, among others.

Leuning is licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Oregon, along with the Minnesota Federal District Court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. He is also certified as a general court-martial judge for the Navy and Marine Corps.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Dakota in 1983 and Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1986.