Clark: I have earned the trust of manyA Q&A with First District Judge candidate Larry Clark.
Name: Larry Clark
Residence: Red Wing
Family: Wife, Colleen; daughter Allison and husband, Mike, grandson, Dylan (20 months); daughter Erin; daughter Kelly and husband, Luis.
Public Involvement (five): 1) Red Wing Human Rights Commission (six years - vice chair); 2) moderator and organizing committee for series of community forums (USA Patriot Act, Immigration, Indian Land Rights, Civil Rights and the Criminal Justice System, NAFTA & Latin America); 3) St. Joseph's Catholic Church (cantor, lector, Eucharistic minister); 4) instructor/presenter annual law enforcement training, correctional officers, sexual assault nurses, victim advocates; 5) president, Dakota County Attorney Employees Association
Education: B.A., political science, University of Minnesota, and J.D., William Mitchell College of Law
Work: Nine years private legal practice, Ellsworth and Red Wing; 21 years Dakota County Attorney's Office
What prompted you to run in 2010?
After the incumbent judge was suspended by the Minnesota Supreme Court, I was approached by several groups in the legal system, including prosecutors, city attorneys, defense attorneys, police officers, deputy sheriffs and court staff. They were dissatisfied with the six-month suspension the Court imposed and wanted me to run.
I spoke with people familiar with the courts in Goodhue County and learned the credibility of the incumbent judge was seriously compromised.
I've known the other two current judges in Goodhue County for many years, and I'll work with them to bring the judicial system in Goodhue County back into balance.
The state continues to project massive budget deficits. How might the legal system's financial constraints affect how you sentence people and how you run your chambers/courtroom?
The state budget alone should not determine the sentences imposed in criminal cases. For crimes against persons, child abuse and other serious crimes, the courts must be able to impose an appropriate sentence, both to protect the victims and deter future crime. With less serious offenses, however, various alternatives could be considered.
I'll work with the other judges and court administration to streamline scheduling, utilize interactive media appearances and minimize unnecessary court hearings. I'll enforce the rules of court, requiring parties to file formal motions and supporting documentation before scheduling any motion hearings, in order to avoid wasted court time.
How are you going to inspire people to trust the judiciary?
During my 30 years as an attorney, I have earned the trust of judges, opponents, victims and police through integrity and hard work.
First and foremost, people must feel that they can trust their judicial system. My decisions will reflect a fair and full consideration of all sides of an issue. I'll also ensure that citizens coming into a courtroom are treated with dignity and respect, whether they are a criminal defendant or party to marriage dissolution.
Secondly, judges must be trusted by the attorneys. I will be considerate and respectful of legal counsel, while maintaining a proper courtroom atmosphere.
Do you support the drug court concept? Why or why not?
I do support the drug court concept. The majority of cases coming before the bench today are criminal, and a significant number of those involve illegal drugs. The processing of these cases can be streamlined, so that they do not clog court calendars. Often times, we are dealing with a defendant who has become addicted to drugs and is committing property crimes to support his or her habit. The emphasis should be placed on public safety and offender rehabilitation. With the more serious offenders, those who are selling drugs or committing violent offenses should not be diverted into drug court.
The state is examining whether to allow cameras in the courtroom. What's your take on the issue?
I am not in favor of cameras in the courtroom. A courtroom provides a forum for serious issues to be presented and aired without outside influence. The presence of cameras would serve to distract and potentially intimidate the participants in the proceedings. I am very concerned about the privacy of jurors, witnesses and victims.