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Carlson takes the Wadena bench

Judge Jay D. Carlson, 52, assumed a seat at the Wadena County Courthouse on Monday. He replaces Judge Timothy J. Baland, who retired on April 4, 2006. Carlson will rotate between Wadena County and Todd County every other week.

Carslon's investiture to the Seventh Judicial District Court was held on Aug. 17 at the Todd County Courthouse. Judge Sally I. Robertson administered the oath.

"It was probably the highest honor that I've ever received in my life," Carlson said about the ceremony witnessed by his mother, brother, sisters and friends. "The people that had played a part in making me who I am were present to watch it. I was very grateful for that."

Before being appointed to the judgeship by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Carlson worked in private practice for 27 years in Detroit Lakes and Fargo. He primarily focused on commercial litigation and commercial transactions, he said.

Carlson was raised in Moorhead and Duluth. As a child, he loved hockey, he said. But his passion for hockey was eventually balanced by an increasing interest in schoolwork and the law when he was 14 years old.

A paper he wrote on Robert Kennedy inspired him to pursue a career in law, he said. Carlson said he learned that Kennedy obtained his law degree as a way to work for social justice and equality.

"I thought that was a noble and admirable cause," he said.

The decision to become a lawyer forced Carlson to pay more attention to his studies, he said.

"Prior to that, hockey was the most important thing in my life," he said.

Carlson received his law degree in 1979 from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn.

He still enjoys ice hockey as well as hunting, fishing and music. Carlson lives on Big Cormorant Lake and enjoys spending time outdoors.

Carlson said he is looking forward to meeting and working with the people of Wadena County. He wants to help those who can and want to be helped, he said. Keeping the community safe is also important to Carlson.

Another one of his goals is to be responsive to public concerns, Carlson said.

"I don't intend to be a judge that sits in an ivory tower," he said.

Carlson said he will show respect for the public, lawyers and court administrators.

"I'm going to be a fair and balanced judge for all that appear before me," he said. "I also have the ability to be tough when necessary."