“I complained about Boxing Judges once to Chuck Horton longtime Duluth, Minnesota Boxing Promoter and my mentor and he told me, It’s a thankless and difficult job judging a fight” I can only imagine how difficult it would be in Judging a Court Case.  Chuck Horton speaks very highly of Judge Hylden, and I feel the same way.” – Zach Walters


“Few of us are as good as our best deed, and none of us are as bad as our worst.” 

Two young men came into criminal Court on the same day, charged with the same crime. The first seemed cold and uncaring, either about the situation he found himself in, or about the effect of his crime on his victims. He just wanted to get the hearing over with, and get on with his day. The second, however, wept profusely throughout the hearing. He was sorry for what he had done to the victim, he apologized to the Court for taking up time, and to his parents for the embarrassment he was putting them through. 

Of these two young men, who was closer to redemption for what he had done? The answer is obvious- the second one. But why? 

All of us make mistakes. Trust me on this- ALL of us. Even those who seem like they have it together have had their share of trial and error. It is part of the human condition. What matters is what you THINK and what you DO after you’ve made your mistake. 

The thinking part should be easy—most of us have been taught right from wrong, so this simply means admitting your mistake and, in your mind, preparing to accept responsibility for your actions. It is also training your mind to understand what led up to your mistake, with the idea that you can avoid a repeat performance by staying away from the people, places and things that helped steer you into your mistake. The mind is a powerful tool- use it to help you create the situation you WANT to be in. 

Unfortunately, too many people don’t take this step. An example is the first young man mentioned above. He wasn’t thinking about whether he had done something wrong—he was only thinking about himself: How long would he have to be in court, waiting for his case to be called? Would he have to spend time in jail? Or on probation? Was there some way for him to still get out of this altogether? Avoiding responsibility for your actions, rather than owning up to them, does not help in the long run, because it prevents you from taking that first step toward redemption. It is the mark of an immature mind. 

Assuming you can get that far, what you DO after you make a mistake is more significant than anything else. As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Redemption takes a commitment to not only atone for the mistake made (for example, a heartfelt (perhaps written) apology, and making up any financial losses suffered by the victim), but also to TAKE the steps you have been thinking about, to ensure that what you’ve done doesn’t ever happen again. 

"What matters is what you THINK and what you DO after you’ve made your mistake. "

“What matters is what you THINK and what you DO after you’ve made your mistake.”

The Courts are all about redemption, all about second chances. When I sentence someone, whether it’s on a petty theft/shoplifting charge or a serious and dangerous assault, my goal is to give that person what they need to achieve redemption, to fix their mistake and avoid any chance of repeat violations of our laws. Sometimes the sentencing orders have what may seem like harsh conditions: -Go to chemical dependency treatment; -Get a mental healthevaluation; -A ban on use of alcohol and drugs; -or orders limiting contact with a specific person. Those conditions are designed to address problems that underlie and lead to the criminal behavior. It is part of the redemptive process, so we can all live in a community that’s a little bit better. 

Sometimes folks get to a point where they doubt there will be redemption for them— they’ve done so many bad things, for so long, they feel it’s beyond hope. But that is wrong. In fact, if you’re having that thought, it shows you are taking that first step—thinking about what you’ve done and how it’s affected others. That’s good! The tough part follows: taking action. But all of us know someone who would help us on that journey. It’s up to you to seek them out, and then to accept the help they offer. 

I’d like to thank Chuck Horton for inviting me to write on this important topic. Since all of us make mistakes, we all need some redemption. I hope you find yours. 

Author: Hon. Eric L. Hylden District Court Judge