Former judicial officer back in courtroom as public defender
A person with a fertile mind can do only so many crossword puzzles before he starts looking for other intellectual stimulation. A people person who enjoys the outdoors can spend only so much time alone in the woods before that gets old. For both ...
A person with a fertile mind can do only so many crossword puzzles before he starts looking for other intellectual stimulation.
A people person who enjoys the outdoors can spend only so much time alone in the woods before that gets old.
For both of those reasons, and because he has legal skills that can help others, Gerald "Jerry'' Maher has returned to the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth.
Maher, 62, of Saginaw retired in July as Minnesota's last county judicial officer -- a position in which he performed many of the same duties as a judge. He's now volunteering his services and working without pay as a public defender representing clients who can't afford to pay for an attorney.
Maher stands alongside defendants at their arraignments, makes bail arguments on their behalf and represents juveniles in hearings involving children in need of protective services.
"It beats doing crossword puzzles,'' Maher said and laughed. "It's true that you have to keep your brain working.''
Fred Friedman, Northeastern Minnesota's chief public defender, appreciates what Maher brings to his office.
"My gosh, with the budget cuts we were dealt last June losing five lawyers, I'm happy to get help like this,'' Friedman said. "It's completely gratis. He has maturity, good judgment, and he's good at helping to resolve matters at the first appearance with the same result that could have taken three appearances. This is very generous of him to give us his time.''
When he retired, Maher anticipated that he would miss the people he worked with in the courthouse -- well, maybe not all those who appeared before him. But he said the people in the courthouse were another reason he came back.
"I live out in the woods, and my wife is still working,'' he said. "I'll do this until she retires, and then we're going to go south for a while and rethink our options when we come back.''
Vicki Maher is St. Louis County deputy director of Public Health and Social Services.