Originally published in the April 2001 issue.
Author: Mary Beth Dorn
On Dec. 4, 2000, this county and state were blessed by Gov. Jesse Ventura’s wise decision to appoint Margaret A. Daly to the Hennepin County District Court Bench. I write this with sincerity, having known Judge Daly professionally and personally for more than eight years.
In late 1992, Judge Daly successfully applied for a district court referee position in Hennepin County. She was selected from an applicant pool that exceeded 90 in number. Judge Daly began her judicial career in family court in January 1993. The first memory I have of her preceded our meeting. After Judge Daly’s appointment as referee was announced, Chief Judge Kevin Burke mentioned to me that I would like her. He was right. As many others have, I quickly grew to respect her intelligence, work ethic, and energy and to appreciate her great humor and good will. When Judge Daly moved from her referee position in family court to a referee position in drug court in January 1998, I have to admit that I felt a personal loss. I had grown accustomed to daily contacts with this friend and co-worker who routinely made well-reasoned and fair decisions in cases that were packed with emotional conflict and who could respond appropriately to lawyers and litigants in stressful court proceedings. She was able to maintain a healthy perspective on life in general and to be kind, supportive and generous in spirit and action to those with whom she worked.
Judge Daly has continually demonstrated her commitment to public service. As a judicial officer, she has been willing and able to assume any assignment, including those that others may prefer to avoid. She also gives freely of her personal time and has been a devoted Big Sister and volunteer at Grace House and St. Joan of Arc Church for many years.
Judge Daly earned her B.A. degree from the College of St. Catherine in 1977 and her J.D. degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 1981. Not surprisingly, she graduated from law school with honors and was awarded the William Mitchell Alumni Association Student Award of Merit in 1981 and the West Publishing Book Award for scholastic achievement in 1980. Judge Daly served as editor of the William Mitchell Law Review from 1980 to 1981.
Prior to attending law school, Judge Daly worked at the Bridge for Runaway Youth in Minneapolis where she counseled juveniles and their families. She also worked at the Merrick Community Center in St. Paul where she ran recreational and therapeutic groups for girls. While attending law school, Judge Daly was employed by the State Public Defender’s Office, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, and the law firm of Briggs and Morgan. Immediately following her graduation from law school, Judge Daly served as a law clerk for Justice Todd of the Minnesota Supreme Court until she moved to California and began employment there with Robins, Zelle, Larson and Kaplan. Judge Daly’s private practice included business and insurance litigation.
After returning to Minnesota, Judge Daly began employment with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in 1988 where she continued to gain significant courtroom experience. During her term with the County Attorney’s Office, Judge Daly tried cases relating to the commitment of individuals as mentally ill and/or chemically dependent and to the indeterminate commitment of persons as mentally ill and dangerous and as sexual psychopaths. Four years later she achieved the appointment of district court referee, spent her first five years in that position in family court and the last three years in drug court. Judge Daly brings to her position as judge a wealth of experience that has touched the lives of many in the most meaningful ways. She has demonstrated an ability to handle a broad range of legal issues and she has a personality that permits her to exercise good judgment without being judgmental. Throughout Judge Daly’s career, she has earned the respect of her peers and those who appear before her.
During her legal career, Judge Daly has assumed responsibilities above and beyond those required by her employment positions. She has served on many committees and boards, including the Hennepin County Bar Association Bench and Bar Joint Committee and the Hennepin County Fatality Review Advisory Board. In 1977, Judge Daly was asked to co-chair the Fourth District Family Violence Coordinating Council, a county-wide initiative designed to improve coordination between public and private agencies in the intervention into family violence. Judge Daly’s contribution to the council, and her work in the area of domestic violence, has been and is exceedingly valuable and has contributed to the development of a domestic violence court in Hennepin County.
Judge Daly is generous with her time, frequently speaking to community and other groups to ensure that the court continues to maintain a connection with the community at large. She has spoken concerning drug court issues to the Minnesota Community Corrections Association, and to the Governor’s Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome concerning Minnesota commitment law and practice. She assumed responsibility as training coordinator for the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association OFP Training Project, has been a frequent continuing legal education speaker, and has testified before the Legislature on numerous occasions on issues concerning the district court. Judge Daly also participated in writing and editing the Hennepin County Guardian Ad Litem manual and the Training Manual for Hennepin County Chemical Health Social Workers.
Judge Daly is married and has two sons of whom she can be very proud. Her love of diversity is demonstrated by her family’s choice of dogs, a bulldog named Ensley and a Newfoundland named Gus. Judge Daly is a fine athlete, being an avid runner and having completed marathons in very admirable times. She also enjoys bicycling, downhill skiing, and golf. This past year has included additional work for Judge Daly and her family as they "remodeled" (rebuilt) a "cabin" (river home) in Wisconsin.
Judge Daly is energetic, enthusiastic, competent, conscientious, and fair-minded. Her demeanor on the bench is admired and respected. Judge Daly will continue to serve our community well.