• September 5, 2012

Former Faegre Baker Daniels partner, Ned Wahl, walked away from annual compensation around $500,000 or so (according to this site) at FBD for about 1/4 of that salary when he accepted the honor of joining the Hennepin County District Court bench.

We assume that he is rational.  So we can infer he did not make the move for the $$$.  Maybe he thought it would be more relaxing and less stressful than a large firm lawyer’s life?

Let’s hope that our new Judge Wahl was under no such delusion.

This week, we note a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision reversing a decision of Judge Wahl’s colleague, Judge Marilyn Brown Rosenbaum.  Judge Rosenbaum had the unenviable task of trying to preside over multi-party litigation about a failed construction project, numerous parties, numerous lawyers and former lawyers, unrepresented parties, an FDIC bank take-over, a bankruptcy, etc.

Presiding over such multiparty free-for-all/free-for-no-one brouhahas sound fun to you? Me, neither.

And then, concluding that one party was willfully ignoring the Court’s orders and, as a sanction, entering default judgment against him, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed Judge Rosenbaum’s sanction of a default judgment against the absent party on appeal.

The district court’s findings are supported by the record, and its frustration with appellants’ conduct is understandable.  Nevertheless, for several reasons, we are compelled to conclude that, on this record, the district court abused its discretion by imposing default judgment. First, it is undisputed that appellants were acting pro se…

Second, the primary factor to be considered when granting a dismissal is the prejudicial effect on the parties….Finally, the district court did not consider a less severe sanction [such as] awarding reasonable expenses, including attorney fees.

Those of us who co-parent or co-manage employees know the pang that accompanies a reversal of sanctions that one has imposed.

Let’s hope that the rewards of judging, the power to do justice and to seek the truth (rather than advocating a party’s particular interest and setting aside consideration of “the greater good”) adequately compensates these soldiers of the justice system.

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