Herald Journal - Voters' Guide '08

One race in Carver and McLeod; otherwise unopposed judges fill ballot

Each election, voters fill out ballots that are filled with a list of judgeships available.

Most judges in district court are appointed by the governor; however, a handful of them are elected or challenged when they run as incumbents, and true races are generally few and far between.

However, there are two such races in District 10, which includes Wright County, and one in District 1, which covers both McLeod and Carver counties. Voters in these counties will help decide who serves as judge in district court there.

The district area for judges encompasses several counties and may result in voters casting ballots for judges who actually live quite far away.

For example, Wright County is served by several judges in the 10th District, which includes eight counties, reaching as far north as Pine County and east all the way to the Wisconsin border.

For the fall election, the following that will appear on local ballots:

  • Joseph Carter versus Nathaniel Reitz (McLeod County, District 1)
  • Glen (Jake) Jacobsen versus Randall Slieter (Meeker County, District 8)
  • Nancy Logering versus Luke Stellpflug (Wright County, District 10)
  • John Dehen versus Robert Varco (Wright County, District 10)

Other than this, local voters will see a long list of incumbents looking for re-election.

One race in First District (McLeod, Carver)

McLeod County and Carver County are covered in District 1 for judge districts.

The First Judicial District has 36 judges who handle nearly 200,000 cases annually in the counties of Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, LeSueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley.

Thirteen judges in this district are up for election, with one featuring a race between Nathaniel Reitz and Joseph Carter (all others are incumbents with no challengers).

Reitz vs. Carter in District 1 (McLeod , Carver)

Joseph Carter of Eagan serves as judge in Dakota County. He is being challenged by Nathaniel Reitz of Lakeville, who has been a Rice County prosecutor since 1998.

The reason that Reitz is running for Carter’s seat is one case that Carter presided in during 2004, according to WCCO News.

Reitz told WCCO that he’s troubled by the case of Justin Paul Farnsworth, a 34-year-old Hastings man who was sentenced to 27 years in prison for raping his girlfriend’s 9-year-old daughter.

Before the rape, Carter awarded custody to Farnsworth of the girl, despite Farnsworth being a sex offender, who was at the end of 10 years of probation for raping a 13-year-old girl in Carver County.

During the case, it was unclear if Farnsworth was the father of the girl, and also Reitz himself admitted that Farnsworth appeared to be the more stable parent between the two.

Carter said he felt terrible about the outcome, but that he handled the case by the book. “No one feels worse than I do,” he said.

A profile of Joseph Carter

When it comes to credentials, Carter has been the chief public defender for the First Judicial District (1998-2001); assistant second judicial district public defender (1987-98); staff attorney, Hyatt Legal Services (1986-87); assistant Scott County attorney (1985-86); staff attorney, and part of Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (1983-85).

Carter has been part of the South St. Paul Restorative Justice Council; Minnesota Board of Continuing Legal Education; co-chair, Committee on Diversity of the Ramsey County Bar Association; and a member of the First District Bar Association.

He’s also been part of the Supreme Court Jury Task Force.

A profile of Nathaniel Reitz

“I take crime seriously,” Reitz has posted on his web site. “I have prosecuted hundreds of criminals, and have personally tried 30 jury trials to verdict during my time at Rice County.”

Reitz is co-chair of the multiagency team responsible for coordinating Rice County’s response to sexual assault. Early in his career at Rice County, he protected victims of child abuse by representing the county in child-protection cases.

Prior to 1998, Reitz was in the US Army. In his six years in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, he served as a legal assistance attorney and criminal defense attorney in Panama, and as the senior prosecutor and chief of the legal assistance office for the Tenth Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. At Fort Drum, he served as a part-time military magistrate, ruling on search warrant applications and confinement requests.

Reitz is the current chair of the Dakota County Farmland & Natural Areas Advisory Committee, and also serves as a Dakota County Planning Commissioner. In addition, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserve.

Reitz is an honors graduate of both the University of Minnesota Law School and Wheaton College in Illinois.

His web site is: www.reitzforjudge.com

“In Minnesota, elections are the only effective means by which judges are held accountable for their decisions. I filed to run against Judge Joseph T. Carter because I knew that, without an opponent, he would be re-elected without having to answer to the people for his 2004 decision to give a convicted sex offender custody of an unrelated 9-year-old girl without first appointing a guardian ad litem to advocate on the child’s behalf.

“Weeks after Judge Carter’s decision to place the child in the sex offender’s custody, the child reported that the offender was sexually assaulting her as well. I respectfully suggest that Judge Carter’s decision in that custody case placed his judgment at issue, and because I filed for election, the citizens of the 1st Judicial District will now have a meaningful opportunity to exercise their judgment in deciding whether Judge Carter merits re-election”

Incumbents without opposition

The following are incumbents who are running unopposed as judges in the fall election.


Judge profiles are the following:

Carol Hooten of Eagan serves in Scott County. She has been an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, chair of the Children’s Justice Initiative Team, Scott County, and member of Meth Task Force, Scott County.

Kevin Eide of South St. Paul serves in Carver County. He attended William Mitchell College of Law, and has a degree from St. Olaf. He is a former athletic coach/instructor – baseball, soccer, skiing

Robert King Jr. of Red Wing serves in Dakota County. As assistant Dakota County attorney, King was lead prosecutor in the trial of David Washington in which Washington, leader of a branch of the Gangster Disciples gang, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder for the shotgun slaying of a 16-year-old boy in Lilydale in 1992.

Edward Lynch of Inver Grove Heights serves in Dakota County. He has chaired various committees on the Minnesota Courts. He received the Minnesota District Judges’ Association “Distinguished Service Award,” in 1997.

Shawn Moynihan of Hastings serves in Dakota County. In the past, he has served as the Hastings city attorney and prosecutor for the City of Rosemount. He has also been a Boy Scout Troop Leader, Pack 92 in Hastings and part of many other community efforts there.

Thomas McCarthy of Winthrop serves in Sibley County. He was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans by Minnesota Jaycees). Community outreach award, Minnesota District Judges Association, part of Blandin Community Leadership Program and Blandin Academy for Advancing Community.

Richard Perkins of LeSueur serves in LeSueur County. He is a member of the Le Sueur Area Chamber of Commerce and the Le Sueur Lions.

Michael Sovis of Hastings serves in Dakota County. He has been an adjunct Professor for Hamline University School of Law.

Mike Fahey of Chanhassen serves in Scott County. He has been part of the Carver County Historical Society, the Chaska Rotary Club and attorney for the Minnesota Baseball Association board of directors.

Karen Asphaug of Hastings serves in Dakota County. She has been chair of the Dakota County Task Force on Policies and Programming for Women Offenders, on the state advisory task force on the female offender, and other committees pertaining to domestic violence.

Thomas Bibus of Red Wing serves in Goodhue County. He is the lead judge in Goodhue County for the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Children’s Justice Initiative.

Mary Theisen of Eagan serves in Scott County. She has contributed to her church, community and to the legal community through many volunteer services. She has also has provided training and education on many occasions, and enjoys speaking to groups.