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Freeborn County attorney to retire Friday after 40 years of practicing law

The lead Freeborn County attorney of 25 years will retire Friday after practicing law for 40 years.

An open house reception for Craig Nelson, 66, will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Freeborn County Courthouse.

As Freeborn County attorney, Nelson is the chief prosecutor of crimes occurring in Freeborn County, provides legal opinions, advice and services to the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners, county offices and departments and conducts other legal work for the county.

“I’ve always enjoyed being a trial lawyer,” Nelson said, noting he has enjoyed presenting arguments and cross examination in court trials.

“I love cross examination, probably because it’s something as a prosecutor I have not able to do very often,” he said.

A graduate of University of North Dakota Law School, Nelson briefly studied New Testament theology and early church history at Mansfield College in Oxford, England.

Prior to being Freeborn County attorney, Nelson handled family farm bankruptcy cases as an attorney for Minnesota Family Farm Law Project. He also served as assistant Freeborn County attorney from 1976-79 and was an attorney at Tuveson, Goldman, Nelson & Callahan in Albert Lea.

In retirement, Nelson plans to spend time with his grandchildren and continue to be involved in the community as a volunteer council member of the Southeast Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Nelson described himself as a goal-oriented person.

“I want to get something done,” he said, noting he enjoys researching, studying and applying laws to factual situations to determine if a crime has occurred.

“You apply the law that you know and study the law to see how things have changed with case law changes and does the law as you believe it to be actually read that,” he said.

Nelson said he is at peace with his decision to retire midterm.

“I think it’s appropriate that I retire and I think it’s also good that I could accomplish things on my own terms,” he said.

Assistant Freeborn County Attorney David Walker will become lead county attorney effective Saturday.

Nelson said he wants people to remember that he approached practicing law with an open mind.

“That I was always aware that people were people,” he said. “That a person who has committed a terrible crime still has some goodness in them. I believe that people are both saints and sinners. I am a true Lutheran in that sense.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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