Duluth judge dies while on vacation in Florida

(ABC 6 News) – The Duluth Judicial branch is reporting that St. Louis County Judge Sally Tarnowski has died unexpectedly while on vacation in Florida. 

Exact details of her death are not known at this time. Judge Tarnowski was 63-years-old.

Judge Tarnowski was appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2007 and elected in 2008, 2014, and 2020. She served as the Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial District from 2016 to 2020. She most recently served as a St. Louis County Judge in Duluth.

“All of us within the Minnesota courts community are devastated by the loss of Judge Tarnowski,” said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. “Beyond her exemplary service to Minnesota, Judge Tarnowski was a vibrant person whose commitment to justice shined through in everything she did.”

Among her many accomplishments, Judge Tarnowski championed mental health treatment court, which offers offenders a pathway out of the justice system by completing a treatment program to stop the behavior that led them to court. She also supported early neutral evaluation in family court, which facilitates prompt dispute resolution for custody, parenting time, and financial matters.

“Judge Tarnowski approached her work with tenacity and dedication,” said Sixth District Chief Judge Leslie Beiers. “Her loss will be deeply felt by all of us in the Sixth District, and by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.”

The St. Louis County Board acknowledged Tarnowski’s passing at the beginning of their meeting on Tuesday. They also acknowledged former assistant St. Louis County attorney Barb Russ, who also died on Monday.