After more than three decades on the bench, a jurist retires

An affirming flame: Justice and Judge David E. Ackerson


Judge David E. Ackerson is pictured with his daughters in July of 2018, the week he retired from the bench. From left: Chloe, Kristin, Ashlie and Aimee. Submitted photo.

Judge David E. Ackerson is pictured with his daughters in July of 2018, the week he retired from the bench. From left: Chloe, Kristin, Ashlie and Aimee. Submitted photo.

CHISHOLM – The Range Bar Association held a retirement celebration for Judge David E. Ackerson at Valentini’s Supper Club in Chisholm on Thursday, Sept. 20. (Great choice, Dave!) At his request and by his design, all of us asked to speak were women whom he knew in various aspects of his life. He asked each of us to speak about what justice means to us, in our experience. I am sure that I was not the only one both honored and challenged by his request.

Those of us who spoke decided that what was said in the room that night needed to be shared with our whole community. Our purpose in doing so was not only to recognize David Ackerson’s outstanding and dedicated service as judge, but also to contribute to a vital public conversation about what makes a judge a justice-maker, what qualifies an individual for such a position, and what defines justice-making as a community, even as a body politic. Hometown Focus, with its mission of grassroots community journalism, was happy to share our words in print.

In the following pages you will read the text of four speeches given that night: by Michele Statz, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and anthropologist of law (p. 8); Carly Melin, attorney and former state representative (p. 7); Kristin Foster (myself), pastor until recently of Messiah Lutheran Church, Mt. Iron (p. 5), and Judge David Ackerson himself (p. 6). Judge Rachel Sullivan also spoke warmly and eloquently, but we were not able to include her speech.

Thank you, Hometown Focus, for providing this forum. May the voices of the women who spoke, along with Judge Ackerson himself, stimulate a wider conversation that has only grown more vital. Rev. Kristin M. Foster lives in Cook, MN. She completed almost 30 years as pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Mt. Iron earlier this year.

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