ST. PAUL - Governor Mark Dayton has announced the appointment of Robert A. Docherty as a District Court judge in Minnesota's Fifth Judicial District.
Docherty will replace Judge John R. Rodenberg who was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals earlier this year. The seat will be chambered in New Ulm at Brown County in Minnesota's Fifth Judicial District.
"Docherty comes highly recommended by all who have worked with him," said the governor. "I am confident he will be an excellent judge in the 5th Judicial District."
Robert Docherty will be a District Court judge with chambers in New Ulm.
Docherty received word of his appointment about noon on Tuesday.
"I was a bit stunned that the decision came so quickly, but I was very happy," Docherty said.
Docherty was one of three finalists. The other two were Mark Ullery, an attorney in New Ulm, and Patrick Rohland, the Redwood Falls City Attorney.
"I know Mark, and I know he would be tough competition. I don't know (Rohland) personally, but I heard from others he is a good guy, a good attorney, and would also be tough competition. I am grateful to the governor for selecting me."
Docherty is currently the managing attorney in the Mankato office of the Fifth Judicial District Public Defender's Office. In this role, he serves as the liaison to the courts in three counties, supervises office personnel and maintains an active caseload.
Docherty said his background as a public defender won't sway his work on the bench.
"I think other lawyers will perceive that I'm going to be fair. I'm not going to be a second defense attorney on the bench. I know prosecuting attorneys have a tough job, and everyone in the courtroom is there for a purpose," said Docherty. "I have a brother who is a prosecuting attorney, so I have some insight into the job. I will be as fair as I can possibly be. I know Judge Rodenberg was a prosecuting attorney at times, but I don't think anyone considered him a prosecutor's judge."
Throughout his career, Docherty has handled a wide variety of civil, criminal, juvenile and appellate cases; serving as an Assistant Public Defender for the Fifth Judicial District and also practicing as an attorney with the Somsen, Schade and Franta law firm in New Ulm. He previously worked as a staff attorney for the Minnesota Court of Appeals. He received a B.A. in English from Creighton University in Omaha in 1983, and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul in 1987.
Docherty regularly volunteers as a New Ulm High School Mock Trial coach and judge. He also served on Our Savior's Lutheran Church Board of Deacons and is a former co-chair of the New Ulm Human Rights Commission. Docherty resides with his family in New Ulm.
Both of his predecessors on the Brown County District Court bench, Judge Teri Stoneburner and Rodenberg, were appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Asked if might be following them, Docherty laughed and said, "It's way, way too early to be thinking about that. I will say this, though; Judge Rodenberg and Judge Stoneburner set very high standards, and I will be focusing on living up to those standards."
Docherty will be meeting with the court administrator today to begin to set up a time for taking the bench. He has some things to finish up at his current job, and judicial training to undergo before he takes the bench.
"I do want to do it soon - Brown County has been without a sitting judge since February," he said.
The Fifth Judicial District also includes Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock and Watonwan counties.