Respect key in appointing judges

Published 1:24 pm Sunday, January 19, 2014

When the Herald reported the spring retirements of Mower County Judges Fred Wellmann and Donald Rysavy, one vital trait for a successful judge stuck out to us: respect.

As the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection readies to appoint two new judges in Mower County, we urge committee members and Gov. Mark Dayton to select successors who will base their careers on respect — both for the law and for the people in their courtrooms.

While we admit judges’ decisions and actions will not please everyone, Wellmann and Rysavy earned the respect of their peers in Mower County. Both also strived to show respect for the people in their courtrooms and maintained empathy for the people facing trial in their courts. We hope the new judges will share these qualities.

Email newsletter signup

Though likely less apparent to the general public, a respect for the law will be just as essential. Wellmann and Rysavy both described themselves as law scholars who acted conservatively within the law.

District court is not the place to stretch the boundaries of the law. Judges, like referees and umpires in sports, should never strive to make a name for themselves. Their chief responsibility is to enforce the rules and regulations already in place.

We thank Rysavy and Wellmann for their many year’s of service. And, we urge the commission and new judges to remember the first words of Minnesota’s Code of Judicial Conduct:

“A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”