News Item
Gearin, Birnbaum Honored by Minnesota District Judges Association

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Second Judicial District Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin and Third Judicial District Judge Robert Birnbaum have been honored by the Minnesota District Judges Association (MDJA). Judge Gearin was honored for her “service to the community”; Judge Birnbaum, MDJA's representative for the Third Judicial District and Chair of the Pension and Benefits Committee, was honored for his “service to the judiciary.”  The awards recognize the efforts of judges who have provided outstanding service inside and outside the judicial system, and were presented at the association’s annual meeting on Sept. 8, 2011. Judge Gearin is chambered in St. Paul, MN, and Judge Birnbaum is chambered in Rochester, MN.

“For the last several years, she has been front and center on some of the most challenging legal and electoral issues of our lifetime,” said one of the nominators of Judge Gearin. “She was involved in the Franken-Coleman election recount, the Republican National Convention of 2008, and the recent government shutdown litigation. She has earned her way to those appointments and positions, and has made the judiciary and the citizens of Minnesota proud.”

“Her gifted abilities and energies were tested when she tackled this (shutdown) case,” said another nominator. “She presided with civility, but firmness; respect, but independence befitting the judicial branch; compassion, but grounded in the rule of law and moderation. She labored to serve the public, to be fair, and to do justice…, her professionalism and her handling of this case embody our ideal of justice we strive for as judges.” 

One nominator noted that in addition to her work on the bench, Judge Gearin is a frequent public speaker and lecturer on courts and court developments.

The nominator of Judge Birnbaum noted that he has been actively involved in the MDJA since joining the bench in 1998, including serving on the association’s newsletter, Website and educational program committees. He has served as a faculty member for the Minnesota Judicial College and as the Third Judicial District’s lead judge for the Children’s Justice Initiative.

“Judge Birnbaum was one of the judges who were asked to take on the task of establishing an effective child protection team to address the abuse and neglect issues in his county,” said the nominator. “He was instrumental in shaping the Olmsted program and influencing and assisting other judges in the district in coming on board...”