Mark Herzing '94, '05 J.D. was appointed as district judge in Minnesota’s 7th Judicial District by former Gov. Mark Dayton in December 2018. Previously, Herzing served as the assistant Mille Lacs County attorney, where he worked on a wide range of the county’s criminal and civil matters. We recently caught up with the now Judge Herzing to learn more about his journey to the bench.
Q. When did you start envisioning yourself as a judge?
A. Before I graduated from law school I worked as a certified student attorney with the Mille Lacs County Attorney’s Office. On busy arraignment calendars, I worked alongside an experienced city prosecutor who never made me feel like I couldn’t do the job or that I didn’t know what I was doing (the reality, of course, was that I had a lot to learn). Shortly after I graduated and started working on a full-time basis that city prosecutor was appointed to the bench and he never changed his demeanor to me or to anyone else. He was a great role model and inspired me to learn about how to become a judge.
Q. What has been the steepest element of the learning curve on the bench?
A. Managing the expectations, and sometimes misconceptions, self-represented litigants have of the court process in a way that productively moves cases forward has presented some of the most notable early challenges. In terms of legal knowledge, the experience I gained by working as an assistant county attorney has been an extremely valuable asset to me on the bench.
Q. What advice do you have for St. Thomas law students and alumni who aspire to the bench?
A. Be considerate of your bench. Not only is it good advocacy, it shows you understand the judicial role. As an attorney, I was lucky to work in the 7th Judicial District which has excellent judges. I learned to appreciate their work and I now appreciate their support as colleagues.
Q. What’s something you learned at St. Thomas that is important to you as a judge?
A. In the courtroom don’t let your ego prevent you from listening, being prepared and doing the right thing under the circumstances. Outside of court, support your community. Going to law school was an unexpected opportunity for me and St. Thomas supported me by letting that happen.
In related news, fellow University of St. Thomas School of Law alumnus Alan Heavens ’07, ’10 J.D. was named a district court judge by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in February 2019. Prior to his appointment, Heavens was serving as the Clayton County attorney in northeast Iowa.