News Item
Tenth District Judge Ellen Maas Named “Trial Judge of the Year”

Posted: Monday, August 1, 2011

The Minnesota Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) has named Tenth Judicial District Judge Ellen Maas Trial Judge of the Year “for outstanding service and dedication in elevating the standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy for all.” Judge Maas is chambered in Stillwater.

ABOTA’s mission is “to foster improvement in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy to the end that individual litigants may receive more effective representation and the general public be benefited by more efficient administration of justice consistent with time-tested and traditional principles of litigation.”

“Judge Maas’ exceptional commitment to our civil justice system, particularly our jury system, her hard work, and dedication are something we believe all judges should aspire to,” said ABOTA President Chris Messerly.

Messerly noted that Judge Maas presided over a highly publicized and controversial trial involving a crash at a railroad crossing.  “It was a highly contentious case involving many lawyers and a lengthy trial. Judge Maas had been presented with many motions which would have required a fleet of law clerks to research and analyze to reach just decisions,” Messerly said.  “However, due to budget cuts, Judge Maas had no law clerk.  She worked tirelessly on the motions and throughout the trial to hear all of the parties out and reach the proper decisions. Her order on the motions came out just after midnight. She was extremely respectful to all attorneys and especially the jury.  She shared with them her sincere belief that the jury system is one of the foundations of our democracy and told them how jury service is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon American citizens.”

"It is our great honor to present Judge Ellen Maas with the 2011 Trial Judge of the Year Award,” Messerly said.

In addition to her official duties as judge, Judge Maas serves as the Tenth Judicial District Finance and Administration Committee Chair and is a member of many other committees and professional associations, including the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the General Rules of Practice, the Minnesota District Judges Association Civil Jury Instructions Committee, and the Minnesota State Bar Association. She is also a past member of the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association.

Judge Maas was appointed to the bench in 1995 by Governor Arne Carlson.  She was elected in 1996 and reelected in 2002 and 2008. She earned her Juris Doctorate, with distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law, and her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Drake University (Phi Beta Kappa).