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Court convenes in historic Stillwater courthouse to mark 150th anniversary

Posted: Friday, June 2, 2017

Court convenes in historic Stillwater courthouse to mark 150th anniversary

Dozens of people visited the historic Washington County Courthouse in downtown Stillwater today to take part in a Law Day event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota. As part of the event, Washington County District Court Judge Gregory G. Galler presided over a calendar of 13 civil and criminal cases, the first time a full calendar of cases had been heard in the historic courthouse in over 40 years.
 
“For 150 years, the historic Courthouse in Stillwater has served as a symbol in our community of the importance of the rule of law, and the crucial role our court system plays in preserving our rights and freedoms,” said Judge Galler. “This event was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate this remarkable community treasure, while also taking time to reflect on the importance of our justice system as our nation recognizes Law Day. I’m pleased that so many community members took the time to be here today and enjoy this historic event.”
 
Before the day’s court proceedings began, Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel gave a brief presentation on the history of the historic Washington County Courthouse, which was constructed in the late 1860s and held much of Washington County government until the opening of the existing Washington County Government Center in 1975.
 
The court also took a brief recess during the calendar to allow Washington County Attorney Pete Orput to give a brief presentation on Washington County’s Veteran’s Court Program, which diverts combat veterans from traditional criminal court and lays out a strict court-monitored treatment and rehabilitation plan aimed at helping veterans struggling with chemical or mental health issues.
 
In addition to the proceedings at the historic Courthouse, a separate event at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater allowed the public to take part in an information fair and activities celebrating Law Day, a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law and the justice system. The theme of Law Day 2017 is The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy, and the event featured an opportunity to learn about the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution through videos, an Ask-an-Attorney event, and a quiz. Court administration staff also provided information to the public about the rule of law and how it relates to administering justice in the Minnesota Judicial Branch. 
 
The Law Day events were put on through a partnership between Washington County and the judges and staff of Washington County District Court and Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District.