Judge candidate: Tim CostleyMy law practice has involved litigation of almost every type of case that would come before a district court judge.
1 I was born and raised in Two Harbors. Both sides of my family are long-time residents, with my dad’s family having lived here for 152 years. I graduated from Two Harbors High School, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and William Mitchell College of Law. I am married to Chrystie and have a step-daughter, Jynni (17) and two daughters, Ella (9) and Kate (6).
2 I have wanted to be the judge for quite some time. Growing up with a dad who is an attorney, and becoming one myself, it’s something you think about and aspire to. I would do a good job in being fair to all who appear before me. I have a lot of pride in our independence as a community and want to keep this job local.
3 I have many. Both of my parents have been hard workers their entire life. They were the first members of both families to graduate from college and they did it on their own. My dad has showed me by example how to work hard at the practice of law and how to treat people with respect and courtesy. My family inspires me every day to work hard to make them proud.
4 Being an investigator for the 11th District Bar Association Ethics Committee, I have dealt with numerous ethical issues that attorneys find themselves in. My job as an investigator is to investigate complaints against attorneys and report to the committee with my recommendations for discipline. In my practice, I work hard to practice in a manner that avoids ethical dilemmas. I can think of two cases in 15 years where I knew that my clients were lying to me and would lie to the court, and I fired them as clients.
5 I try to be professional with the difficult people. Many times just listening and letting people get their anger out will do wonders for getting agreements worked out. You can be firm with difficult people but still be polite and respectful at the same time. Having a sense of humor also can be very effective at times in breaking down those tensions.
6 Looking at cases that a judicial candidate has handled as an attorney is not a valid measuring stick to determine what kind of a judge a person would be. I think of John Adams who, despite concerns it would hurt his reputation, defended the British troops in the Boston Massacre as they could not find counsel. Nobody accused Adams of being a British sympathizer because he performed his duty as their attorney. Voters should know that as attorneys and officers of the court, our duty is to advocate for our clients to the fullest ethical extent possible. Our duty is to give our clients a voice in the court and an opportunity to tell their story. Most experienced litigators have argued both sides of the same issue in different cases. A better guidepost would be to talk to attorneys who regularly practice against the candidate, or talking to the candidate in person with your questions or concerns.
7 I am most proud of being able to practice with my dad and make a living in our hometown.
8 My law practice has involved litigation of almost every type of case that would come before a district court judge. I have handled many complex civil matters involving construction defects, breach of contract, business contract and ownership disputes, real estate disputes, personal injury, product liability, dram shop, insurance coverage disputes, and have had numerous arguments before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. I have handled hundreds of family law cases and am a regularly court-appointed counsel for juvenile cases in Lake and Cook counties.
9 A judge is bound to apply the existing law to the facts of the case before him or her. It is left to the legislature or higher courts to amend and repair any injustices in the law.
10 The State of Minnesota has criminal sentencing guidelines that provide a judge with state proscribed sentences. These guidelines also provide the judge with rules the judge should follow in imposing sentences for cases that have either lesser or greater degrees of criminality. In imposing sentences it is my opinion that as a judge I have minimal authority to impose a sentence outside of the framework of the State of Minnesota mandated guidelines.
11 Bail amounts are required by both the state and federal constitutions to allow individuals who are charged with crimes, arrested and housed in jail to be released. As a judge, I would balance those charged with crimes the right to be released from jail against society’s needs to be safe from a dangerous person.
12 Lack of funding is the No. 1 problem and will be for the foreseeable future. I think the judges in our district have been very forward thinking in their approach to trying to keep court personnel employed and educating the public about the need to keep the system funded. Our court employees are becoming increasingly taxed as retirements are not being filled. As an attorney, I see first-hand the result of the funding decrease and the delays it is causing in the system. We have excellent court staff in Lake and Cook counties. As a judge, I will work hard to advocate for funding and to help them keep the system moving with whatever creative ideas they have.
13 The increase in filing fees has placed a strain on the clients we represent. There are many people who make too much money to qualify for legal aid, but who cannot afford the cost to pay the filing fees and litigate legitimate claims. The Northeast Minnesota Volunteer Attorney program is still the best resource for these people. I have regularly volunteered for this program since beginning my practice and will continue to support their efforts at getting free legal services to those who need it most.
14 Absolutely. The citizens of Lake and Cook counties have a right to appear in a courthouse in the county in which they live. The pressure to close the Two Harbors and Grand Marais courthouses is real. My pledge is that I will fight very hard to keep our courthouses open. I know what it means to the independence of our communities. I also do not want to see our law enforcement taxed with the responsibility of having to drive people in custody to Duluth for hearings or having to chase down a judge in Duluth for a warrant.
15 The judicial canons encourage judges to educate the public regarding the process of the courts. As a judge, I will meet with any group for the purposes of educating and informing the public about the judicial system and the furtherance of justice in our community.
One of the things I would like to do as a judge is spend time in the Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Ely and Cook County schools educating the students about our judicial system. I consistently encounter clients, friends and neighbors who do not understand how our system works. Although the system is not always perfect, it is still the best system in the world. I think educating the public and our children about how juries and courts work and the procedure of the court system is important. I think this would be one of the most enjoyable parts of being a judge and I would try and make it interesting for the students.
16 I regularly travel between the courthouses now, handling a caseload of private and court-appointed matters in Grand Marais. I normally don’t have the radio on heading up to Grand Marais. I use that time to think about the cases I am handling that day. On the way home I think about the things I need to get done the next day. I know it sounds boring, but the phone isn’t ringing like it is in the office and I can take time to think.
17 I enjoy the people. I also like the fact that we still have large tracts of public lands and trails to fourwheel, snowmobile, hunt, and fish. It is a great place to grow up and live and a great place to teach my girls about the outdoors.
18 Everybody knows that I love to hunt and fish. Not everybody knows that I do most of my own landscaping and home improvement projects. I enjoy carpentry, wiring and building/fixing steps, decks, docks (and everything else that breaks) at my home and our cabin. It is one time I don’t think about work.