Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 27, 1998

Glencoe attorney Conkel named district court judge

By Rich Glennie

Before a large audience of friends, colleagues and other dignitaries, Terry Conkel of Glencoe was named the new judge in the First Judicial District.

He will be based in Glencoe and the McLeod County Courthouse.

Gov. Arne Carlson made the announcement in the upstairs courtroom in the courthouse.

In naming Conkel to fill the First Judicial District trial court bench vacancy in McLeod County, Carlson said the Glencoe attorney fits the three main requirements for being a judge - character, a solid academic background and a wide range of experience.

"Normally I'm not at a loss for words," Conkel said. "But I'm overwhelmed with the honor bestowed upon me.

"I'm excited to be serving the citizens of the county, the First District and the state," Conkel said. He pledged to fulfill those duties to the best of his ability.

"I look forward to the challenge and responsibilities of this position," Conkel said. "I look forward to being a part of the process."

Conkel also said the two other candidates for the position, Glencoe attorney Mike Long and Hutchinson lawyer Scott Newman, also were qualified for the job.

He, a partner with the law firm of Gavin, Olson, Conkel and Savre in Glencoe, thanked his law partners, Mike Gavin, Kerry Olson and Mike Savre, as well as the firm's staff, for their support, as well as the citizens who wrote letters of support.

The opening will occur as a result of the retirement of Judge Richard L. Kelly on July 31, 1998. The Supreme Court later certified the vacancy to be transferred to Glencoe in McLeod County in the First Judicial District.

Conkel said the case loads have grown over the past 10 years in McLeod County, especially in traffic and juvenile cases.

Conkel has been an attorney with the Glencoe law firm since 1977 and a partner since 1979.

Conkel was a law clerk for the chief judge of the Third Judicial District from 1976 to 1977.

He earned his juris doctorate degree from Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Neb., in 1976 and his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1973.

"Conkel brings a well-rounded practice to the bench," Carlson said. "His background as a civil trial specialist, city prosecutor and volunteer attorney for low income families will be an asset to the citizens of McLeod County."

Kathy Meyerly of the state merit selection commission said the panel presented the governor with three to five candidates from which to select.

Although the governor is not required to appoint any of those recommended, Meyerly said he has never deviated from that process, and that showed his support for the merit selection commission.

She said the appointments are "no political litmus test, but based on merit only."

This was the governor's 11th appointment in the First Judicial District, Meyerly said.

Conkel is certified as a civil trial specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association and is a member of the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota.

He also served as chairman of the Eighth District Ethics Committee, appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, and is a volunteer attorney for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services.

Conkel was awarded Outstanding Volunteer Attorney for McLeod County in 1983 and 1996.

Conkel, 47, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. He and his wife, Jeanne, have three daughters, Jessica, Julia and Joanna.

Conkel said the governor's announcement last Wednesday was a public announcement, but an official swearing-in ceremony will take place in the next few months.

Although there are no course and exam requirements for being a judge, Conkel said the First Judicial District has a new judge orientation that must be taken in the first six months of being a judge.

Another recent appointment to the bench was Barry Anderson of Hutchinson, who was named to the Minnesota Court of Appeals by the governor.

State judges are elected and have six-year terms in office. Conkel said he will have to run in the next general election, which will be 2000.

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