The beloved Minnesota judge, 63, has been killed after being hit by a car while on vacation in Florida
A Minnesota judge, who was well liked by her colleagues, was killed after being hit by a car while on vacation in Florida.
Judge Sally Tarnowski, who most recently served as a judge in Minnesota’s St. Louis County, passed away Monday, her family said.
Tarnowski, 63, had been a county judge since 2007 and had risen in 2001 to become chief justice of Minnesota’s Sixth Judicial District under Governor Tim Pawlenty.
The judge pioneered the state’s “Mental Health Court” — which used the judiciary to sentence people with psychological problems to treatment rather than jail — and heard cases last week before heading south.
She was still scheduled to hear business later this week upon returning from Venice, Florida, where she was vacationing with family. Her term as a district judge would not expire until 2027.
Judge Sally Tarnowski, who last served as a judge in Minnesota’s St. Louis County, passed away Monday, her family said
A moment of silence was held in her courtroom and a memorial was erected on its steps on Tuesday.
Tarnowski was loved by people on all sides of the law, with public defender Veronica Surges — who had dealt with Tarnowski several times — receiving a call from a client tearfully sentenced to jail over her death, according to the Duluth News Tribune .
“As a passionate lawyer, I often disagreed with her statements in my cases,” Surges said. “At the same time, I had deep respect for her because I could see how much she cared about the people in my courtroom — especially my most mentally ill clients.”
Another attorney noted that she was friendly and hardworking, often riding her bike to work in Minnesota’s frigid weather, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said.
“Underneath her tough exterior, she was one of the kindest, most compassionate and most patient people I’ve ever met,” Surges added.
According to those close to her, she considered retiring in 2025, but she still had a packed schedule.
This summer, the state will roll out what public defender Dan Lew called “mental health court lite,” giving people who committed minor offenses the same help as those who committed serious crimes.
She was also an early advocate of neutral evaluation in family courts, which allows for speedy dispute resolution for child custody, parental time and financial matters, WDIO said.
Friends, family and colleagues mark Tarnowski’s name with a memorial outside St. Louis County Court in Minnesota
A moment of silence was held in her courtroom and a memorial was erected on its steps on Tuesday
Tarnowski was loved by people on all sides of the law, with public defenders meeting her in court and praising her work
Tarnowski, 63, had been a St. Louis County judge since 2007 and had risen to become Chief Justice of Minnesota’s Sixth Judicial District in 2001 under Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Tarnowski was also praised by local Native American leaders who complemented her work on children going through the US justice system.
“Her contributions to the establishment of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Courtroom in St. Louis County, which has been emulated in courtrooms across the area, will always be a great achievement,” the local Chippewa Tribe Board said in a statement. a statement.’
“Her continued support for Native American family equality was unheralded and a huge loss to the 6th Judicial District.”
Tarnowski had two adult children, Katie and Ben, with ex-husband Greg.
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin called her a very honest judge who enjoyed her job and life.
“If you came before her you might not agree with the outcome, but you really respected the way she made her decision and the way she treated the defendant and the victims and everyone in the courtroom,” Rubin said.