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Judge Clark takes the bench

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In front of a packed courtroom Monday in the Goodhue County Justice Center, Larry Clark was sworn in as the newest judge for the First Judicial District.

"I believe it is the highest calling of an attorney to serve as a judge," Clark said at the ceremony.

Clark joins local Judges Thomas Bibus, who administered the oath, and Kevin Mark. The district covers Goodhue, Carver, Dakota, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley counties.

Clark will be chambered in Goodhue County but will occasionally work in the other counties, Bibus said. District judges serve a six-year term.

Clark is excited to take the bench, he and his wife said, an anticipation that has made the past two months since his election frustrating at times.

"It's hard having a foot in his new life and a foot in his old life," said Clark's wife Colleen. "He's anxious to get started."

Clark previously worked as a criminal prosecutor in the Dakota County Attorney's Office, a post he had held since 1989.

During the ceremony, Bibus and Mark praised Clark's honesty, integrity and work ethic. They also offered some advice to the new judge.

"It can be a very lonely position sometimes on the bench and in the chambers because you have to make decisions that profoundly affect people immediately and to the heart," Mark said.

But, he added, that with the support of courtroom staff, friends and family, Clark will succeed.

Clark defeated incumbent Judge Timothy Blakely in the November election. It was a race that gained wide attention after Blakely sought re-election despite being censured in 2009 by the Minnesota Supreme Court after allegations that he received a discount on his divorce services for sending mediation cases to his personal lawyer.

Clark said running a campaign for the position was a different and difficult experience for him, but added that it helped him realize the importance of his new role as judge.

"I'm not here to serve a governor, I'm not here to serve a commissioner," he said. "I'm here to serve the people who elected me."

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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