Zimmer sworn in as District Court Judge

Photo by Deb Gau Tricia Zimmer, the newest judge serving the area District Court, was sworn in Friday afternoon by District Court Judge Michelle Dietrich. Zimmer started her career in Lyon County District Court, and also served as assistant Lyon County Attorney, before being appointed as a judge.

MARSHALL — It was a new step in her career. But as Tricia Zimmer took a seat at the judge’s bench in Lyon County District Court for the first time, she said in some ways it was like she was going back to the beginning.

“I’ve come full circle. I got started in Lyon County, as a law clerk,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer was officially sworn in as a District Court Judge in an investiture ceremony Friday afternoon. The courtroom was filled with area residents and officials, Zimmer’s family, Lyon County District Court staff, and judges from Minnesota’s Fifth Judicial District.

Earlier this summer, Gov. Mark Dayton announced that Zimmer would be appointed as a judge, to fill the vacancy left when Judge Leland Bush retired. Zimmer will be co-chambered in Lyon County and in Lincoln County.

Judge Michelle Dietrich, who administered the oath of office to Zimmer on Friday, said it was an important court proceeding. Judges have an important duty to uphold the rule of law, she said.

Speakers at Zimmer’s investiture pointed out that she’s not a stranger to Lyon County District Court. Over the course of her career, Zimmer has served as a law clerk, an attorney and Assistant Lyon County Attorney.

Dietrich said the people of Minnesota were fortunate to have Zimmer as a judge. Judges need to have character traits like patience, open-mindedness and a commitment to being fair, she said.

“Tricia has that temperament. I’ve seen it, and so have many of you in this room,” Dietrich said. She said Zimmer also had the understanding — both of the law and of people — needed for the job.

While Judge Bush wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, he did write remarks that Lyon County court administrator Karen Bierman read out for the people gathered in the courtroom.

“As an attorney, Ms. Zimmer did an excellent job,” Bush said. He said he was sure Zimmer would be dedicated to her new responsibilities. “I personally wish her well in this new role.”

Zimmer also thanked many of the people present, from past colleagues to family members.

“I’m grateful for every one of you,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer said her family have helped shape her work ethic and values, and motivated her through difficult times. In fact, she said, they helped her commit to a legal career.

“We all have pivotal moments in life,” Zimmer said. For her, she said, it was her third year in law school. In that year, she said, she was not only coping with the death of her father, but recovering from a car crash weeks before she was supposed to take the bar exam.

Zimmer said she told her brother she wasn’t sure about taking the exam.

“He said, ‘Well, you could not take it,’ “ Zimmer said — but then she’d be failing herself. Her brother inspired her to pass the bar and keep going.

Zimmer interviewed with Judge George Marshall and Judge George Harrelson for a clerk position in Lyon County District Court, and began her career there. Over the years, she said she’s worked with great attorneys and court staff. And for the past three-and-a-half years, she said, she “couldn’t have been more fortunate” to work with North Star Mutual Insurance Company.

Now, a new chapter was beginning for her.

“I’m very honored that I was chosen for this position,” Zimmer said of being chosen as a judge.