One-Time Defendant On Judge Tarnowski’s Death: ‘She Saw Enough Hope’

Duluth, Minn. — With the news of Duluth Judge Sally Tarnowski’s death Monday, FOX 21 talked with a past defendant of her courtroom who said his life forever changed for the better because of Tarnowski’s compassion.

Patrick Herman had seen a lot of different judges all over the state. He’d had been convicted a number of times for drunk driving and judges had locked him up for his offenses. That changed in Duluth when he appeared before Judge Tarnowski.

Patrick Herman said, “I went in and out of the VA and jail multiple times. DWIs all over the state and so I ended up this last DWI with Judge Tarnowaski  was my second Felony DWI and I should of went to prison, most judges would have sent me to prison.”

But that did not happen, instead Judge Tarnowski gave him probation and arranged for him to receive help for his drinking and PTSD.

Patrick said, “I deserved going to jail. I deserved more than I got. But she saw enough hope that it was the right decision, I got lucky I guess.”

His girlfriend at the time, and now his wife, Margaret Ricci, says she wasn’t sure if their relationship could have lasted if he’d gone to prison. Instead they’ve now been married for two years, and bought a home and she thanks Judge Tarnowski for making this possible.

Margaret Ricci said, “None of it could have happened if it weren’t for the mercy and wisdom and kindness of Judge Tarnowski. I do remember that she looked at him and could see the noise and everything that had bought to this point, was not there. She could see the man underneath it all and she believed enough to give that man another chance and give the hope that comes from the lord.

Through his PTSD treatment at the VA, and becoming sober, today their lives together are good. There are still times Patrick needs to remember how lucky he is that Margaret is there to help him. And Judge Tarnowski made it possible.

“If Judge Tarnowski wouldn’t have let me out, I don’t know if my wife would have been able to make it. So I was able to get married and I became a homeowner at the end of last year and after a really tumultuous 30 years of my life,” said Patrick.

Both Patrick and Margaret are musicians and that’s one way the two help each other when they need to let the stress out. The person who played a role in making their lives possible may be gone, but Margaret and Patrick will always remember Judge Tarnowski and be thankful.

Patrick summed up his thoughts saying, “I just don’t know what to say about her. I remember the last time I saw her walking through the skywalk, I was going to probation, and I said nice to see you Judge Tarnowski and she said nice to see you. It’s a good memory for me.”

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