Kathleen R. Gearin, Ramsey County District Judge, Retired

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Kathleen R. Gearin joins JAMS following 26 years of distinguished service as a Ramsey County District Judge in St. Paul, Minnesota.  She is known for her ability to manage complex matters with integrity, fairness, decisiveness, and sensitivity.

Most widely known for assuring essential government services for Minnesotans during a 2008 government shutdown, Kathleen knows what it takes to get parties to the table, to help them assess legal obstacles and to resolve issues fairly under pressure.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

While on the bench she presided over all areas of civil law including medical malpractice, products liability, real estate, probate, guardianships, conservatorships, medical devices, employment non-compete agreements, contracts, insurance coverage, malpractice, civil arson, civil homicides, clergy sexual abuse, environmental issues, and business litigation.  She also handled contested custody and property disputes in family court and has jury tried more than a dozen first degree murder cases.

  • During her tenure as Chief Judge of her district, which includes the state Capital, she frequently dealt with politically sensitive cases including free speech cases during the 2008 Republican National Convention, the Coleman-Franken Senate recount, and the longest government shutdown in United States history.
  • She always engaged in discussions with the parties in an effort to resolve matters and was often successful because of her ability to analyze the underlying issues and her sensitive, practical, and direct manner.

Representative Matters

  • 1993 Third and Maria gas explosion cases: Judge Gearin was assigned all of the cases filed against the City of St. Paul and Excel Energy as a result of this gas leak explosion that destroyed much of a city block. They included claims for wrongful death, personal injury, personal property, real estate, and loss of business proceeds.  She was able to manage the settlement of all of the lawsuits, even meeting personally with some rooming house residents at the request of the defendants to resolve their conciliation court claims.
  • At the request of both sides, successfully mediated a wrongful death suit involving a non-English speaking immigrant family who lost their three-year-old child. Both sides asked her to meet with the parents aided by an interpreter.
  • Presided over pre-trial motions and successful settlement conferences in dozens of professional malpractice cases against doctors, lawyers, accountants, and hospitals.
  • Assigned all of the “silzone” cases filed in Minnesota involving claims that a Minnesota medical device company manufactured and distributed defective heart valves. Plaintiffs from all over the United States, Canada, and the European Common Market were involved in this litigation. All state court claims were settled after multiple pre-trial hearings and settlement conferences.
  • During her career as a judge, she was frequently asked to meet separately with both sides’ clients to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of going to trial. She was known for being able to get both sides to take a realistic look at their case, to better understand the position of the other side, and to recognize the benefits of resolving the issues before trial.

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Honors
  • Attorney of the Year, Recognition for Outstanding Service, Minnesota Lawyer, 2014
  • Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence, MSBA Public Law Section, 2012
  • Outstanding Service in Contributing to the Improvement of the Community, Minnesota District Judges Foundation, 2011
  • Minnesota Trial Judge of the year, American Board of Trial Advocates, 2009
  • Distinguished Irishwomen of 2000 Award, St. Paul’s St. Patrick’s Day Association, 2000
Professional Activities
  • Member, Minnesota Courts Technology Committee
  • Former Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Women Judges/Women Judges Fund for Justice
  • Former Member, Board of Directors, Project Remand (a Ramsey County pre-trial criminal diversion program)
  • Former Member, Center for Sex Offender Management Advisory Board
  • President, Minnesota District Judges Association, 1999-2000
  • Member, Advisory Board, Project Reconnect (a Ramsey County corrections program for substance abusing women offenders)
  • Former Chair, Ramsey County’s District Committee on Home Confinement, Sentence to Service and Day Reporting Programs
  • Former Member, Minnesota Supreme Court Rules of Public Access to Court Records Advisory Committee
  • Two-time member of Minnesota Courts Strategic Planning Committee
  • Former Member, Committee on the Ramsey County Fast Track Drug Program
  • Former Member, Steering Committee, Minnesota Court Information System (MCIS)
  • Former Chair, Juror Treatment Subcommittee, Minnesota Supreme Court Jury Task Force
  • Appointed Acting Supreme Court Justice on two civil conflicts cases
Lectures, Teaching, and Authorship
  • Trial Advocacy Adjunct Professor, William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2013-present.  Also taught trial skills courses at Hamline Law School, University of St Thomas Law School, and NITA
  • Teacher: “How to Handle High Volume Calendars” and “Jury Management” classes, Minnesota New Judge Judicial College, 1996-2013
  • Minnesota County Attorney Association and Public Defender Association Trial School, 1987-2011
  • Continuing Legal Education Seminars on Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Civil Post-Trial Motions, Wrongful Death Cases, Employment Law, Trial Skills, Juvenile Law, Sentencing, Ethics, and Juror Stress, 1977-present

Background and Education

  • District Court Judge, Second Judicial District, Ramsey County, Minnesota, 1987-2013
    • Chief Judge, 2008-2012
    • Assistant Chief Judge, 2004-2008
    • Member of Minnesota Judicial Council and its predecessor, The Conference of Chief Judges 3 times
    • Sat on three judge appeal panels for persons committed as a sexually dangerous person or a sexual psychopath
  • Prosecuting Attorney, Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, 1975-1985
  • Secondary School Teacher, Social Studies, 1967-1971
  • J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, 1975
  • B.A. in History, with Honors, College of St. Catherine, 1967

Disclaimer

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