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Docherty is new Fifth District Judge

Has done wide array of cases

August 18, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM- A New Ulm attorney who has handled a wide variety of civil, criminal, juvenile and appellate cases and has held a variety of law posts, became the Fifth Judicial District District Court Judge Friday.

Robert A. Docherty, the managing attorney in the Mankato office of the Fifth Judicial District Public Defender's Office, follows Judge John R. Rodenberg, who was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals earlier this year.

"Docherty comes highly recommended by all who have worked with him," said Governor Mark Dayton when the appointment was announced last month. "I am confident he will be an excellent judge in the Fifth Judicial District."

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch

Robert A. Docherty became the Fifth Judicial District District Court Judge Friday.

Chief Public Defender and judicial supervisor James Fleming said he worked with Docherty as a public defender on nothing but "tough cases."

Fleming said he and Docherty were good friends in the Class of 1987 at William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul and worked together as public defenders.

"Robert would get into the office before I got there and left after I did," Fleming said. "I recall working a Worthington murder case with him that involved 16-hour days against two very good prosecutors. Robert was my rock, my mainstay. It was a case that touches the deepest resources of a human being."

Fleming, who presented Docherty, said the experience shaped who they are as lawyers.

"Let me assure you, this is one tough lawyer. His call is representing people," Fleming. "I can think of no one better to step into this role than Robert Docherty. He'll be a great judge. He knows law and loves and understands people."

Fleming said Docherty would approach family cases with great care because he's compassionate and honest.

Docherty said becoming a judge was humbling and he is honored to have the responsibility.

"I've been fortunate to have worked with people in public defender office and private law firms who really pushed me to be the best I can be," Docherty added. "I learned from my opponents too."

He mentioned the late Pat Moriarty and Clark Tuttle among those people.

"Pat would take a hopeless case, try it to the best of his ability and sometimes get a surprising result," Docherty said. "Clark was great to try a case against. He fought hard, could beat you silly in a case and still be your friend."

Docherty thanked his wife Linda for her support.

"She's more than I could've hoped for," Docherty said.

He said the ceremony is more about the court than himself.

"Judges come and go, the court stays," he added.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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