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Judge taking medical leave

By Staff | Jun 12, 2011

Judge Richards

In the next several weeks the judicial process will remain in motion in Faribault County District Court.

But, it won’t be the same.

Judge Douglas Richards has taken a summer medical leave. He has been diagnosed with blood cancer in his bone marrow.

On Wednesday, Richards spent the day working on cases, tying up any loose ends.

“This morning my desk was filled with case files. I have a few things left to do,” he says.

The next day Richards began stem cell transplants at the Mayo Clinic to treat his cancer.

“It’s going to work. I’m going to get better and I’ll be back to work,” he says.

Richards had no reason to believe having an annual physical last November would reveal any surprising results.

It would be strictly routine.

“I was healthy as a horse and wasn’t experiencing any symptoms,” he says. “Then we got the blood work results. This is a silent cancer.”

In February, a final diagnosis confirmed he had blood cancer.

So, two times a week Richards went to Mankato to receive chemotherapy and also was taking other medication.

Despite his medical condition, that didn’t stop him from continuing a full workload.

Richards wasn’t experiencing any side effects from the treatment, so why not work?

In his 16 years serving on the bench, Richards has had a daily schedule of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“Working has been great. It keeps your mind off the process, the treatments I know I have to do,” he says.

“Besides, what choice do I have,” he adds with a smile.

Following the transplant procedure, Richards will stay and be monitored daily at Gift of Life Transplant House, a germ-free facility.

In his absence, retired Judge George Haroldson of Marshall will hear cases three days a week.

Richards also has served as chief judge for the Fifth Judicial District — covering 15 counties — since 2008. Those duties will be handled by Judge Bradley Walker of Mankato.

Well-wishers will be able to contact Richards at CaringBridge.org.

Other than returning to work, Richards is anxiously awaiting the fall season.

“I’m going to the Gophers football season opener. That’s my goal,” he says.