TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Happy Turkey Day

Thanksgiving means many different things to people. To me, it is a reminder that, notwithstanding all of the bad happenings in this country and the rest of the world, I am one of the luckiest men on Earth.

I have enjoyed the practice of law and many years on the bench and was blessed with wonderful support staff, both in my law office and in Municipal Court.

In my public and private life, I have met the best whom the human race has to offer. I wish I could let each know how they had an impact on me.

In most cases, even those with whom I disagreed — or vice versa — did it in a respectful way. Even when disrespect showed its ugly head, we had a way of overcoming it and getting along.

No person ever born has more respect for the law than I do. At times like this, I remember some of my heroes: my dad, Judge Ronald N. Davies; Judge Myron Bright, whom I knew both before and after he became judge; Judges John O. Garaas, Roy K. Redetzke and Ralph Maxwell, who helped me in my career on the bench; and Justice Harry Blackmun, the U.S. Supreme Court judge who wrote the opinion relating to abortion in the case of Roe v. Wade. My admiration for Justice Blackmun, however, had nothing to do with his opinion on that case; rather, it arose from my opportunity to meet and spend time with him and his wife, Dottie, thanks to my dad using me as his personal driver when they were in town.

I saw the justice as caring human being who applied the law as he knew it to be. He was just a very decent man. His wife had a laugh that could take the bark off a tree. They were both very nice people … Fargo-Moorhead Nice.

I watched Ralph R. Erickson go from a good attorney, to a great state district court judge and then on to an awesome U.S. federal district judge. Now I hope to see him become a judge on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Fargo-Moorhead, we have the finest attorneys in the country. Whether seeking one who practices civil or criminal law, you need look no further than the Cass-Clay Bar Associations for the best.

In the media, we also have the best local radio, TV and network news. It makes no difference what your politics are. Then there’s the F-M Extra and its little sister, The Forum, for news in print news, and don’t forget the High Plains Reader.

At this moment in our nation’s history, I am particularly proud of our judicial system and the media. While some slur journalists as the “fake media,” those with functioning brains know full well this country needs — no, demands — an unobstructed media. In this day and age, those professionals are really earning their keep.

I intensely disagree with some in the local media. However, if they were my friends to begin with, they are my friends now (at least on my end).

The federal courts are due praise for keeping unlawful actions from being enacted and protecting the constitutional rights of us all. The law is the law. If you don’t like it, see if you can change it — but stop with the attacks on the courts! This is a time when the law really counts, and the courts are fulfilling their responsibilities.

With all these nice comments, one might think I was going to run for office! Don’t worry. That is not going to happen.

I said earlier that I am lucky. That certainly applies to my family. All of my children and grandchildren are alive and in good health. All are following their hearts in what they are doing. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

I have been married to a saint called Maureen K. Brodigan Davies forever. I met her in 1956 at Fargo Shanley High School. Growing up with my three sisters had convinced me that women were to be avoided at all cost … but then I saw Maureen. She did have a great smile, but being an “eye” man, I immediately noticed she had one green eye and one blue eye. It turned out her mom had one blue eye and one brown eye, but the rest of the Brodigans were normal.

We had just moved to Fargo from Grand Forks after my dad had been appointed judge, so all of my classmates were new to me. I finally asked several of my new friends whether Maureen “liked” me. Well, that was a bad question; three of them came back with her answer: “We’ll never be anything but friends.”

With her response, I figured, “game on.” I hounded her ’til she said she’d marry me. On Sept. 3, 1960, we married. Through good times and bad, thick and thin, we made her comment come true: While we are married, we are in fact best friends.

As some readers know, I retired from the bench involuntarily when my body was slammed by severe pancreatitis. I was ill for over a year, including two months in intensive care. I dropped from 190 to 130 pounds.

Everyone but me was terrified at my condition. Since I was under intense medical care, I was unaware of its seriousness. When I regained my senses (no comments, now — be nice), I told my physicians that if they could have awakened me during that time, I’d have told them not to worry. Of course they asked why the hell I would even say that. My response was very simple: “I don’t qualify for heaven, and the devil didn’t want competition.”

Needless to say, I am indebted to the doctors, nurses and the rest of the medical staff at Sanford Health for providing the quality care that accounts for my survival.

Take all of the above. and throw in the wonderful life we have in these twin cities …  and you understand why each year at Thanksgiving I am truly grateful for the life I have.

P.S. If it weren’t for the great health insurance I have, my life would not be what it is today. Affordable health care is absolutely essential. Don’t let anyone try to take it away.

For 55 years as an attorney and on the bench, professional restrictions and the Judicial Code precluded from commenting on the matters that I can address today. Thanks to the folks at the Extra and Unheralded.fish for allowing me to finally have my say. Amen.

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