Weather Forecast


Washington County Attorney Johnson says third term is his last

Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson confirmed for media last week that he is planning to retire after he finishes his third elected term in December 2010. Johnson has served as county attorney since 1999.

Doug Johnson had been talking about retirement with family, friends and colleagues for awhile. So it was just a matter of time before the cat was let out of the bag.

The Washington County attorney confirmed with media over the last week that he would not be seeking another term in the fall of 2010.

Johnson, who moved to Washington County in 1986 after serving as Wadena County attorney, first ran for Washington County attorney in 1998. He was reelected in 2002 and again in 2006.

"It was my intention when I first ran, that if I won I would do three terms," said Johnson, who will be 65 when he is set to retire from a career in law when his term expires December 2010.

Prior to being elected county attorney, Johnson worked as an assistant county attorney for 12 years.

In 1987, he was hired as the first attorney in a newly created juvenile division that was responsible for the prosecution of all juvenile cases and child protection cases.

Johnson said he enjoyed juvenile and child protection cases the most out of all of his work for the county attorney's office because it allowed him to help troubled youth.

"A lot of people say, 'Well, how can you stand to do those child protection cases?'" Johnson said. "And my response is 'All you can do is complain, but I can do something about them.' In child protection and delinquency you actually have an opportunity to change behavior."

When Johnson was elected to his first term as county attorney in 1998, he was the head of the juvenile division that had grown to five attorneys. He served as co-chair of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association's Juvenile Committee as well as on the Juvenile Rules of Court Committee of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Johnson is credited for initiating a number of changes and programs since taking office including institution of a community prosecution program through Washington County to facilitate communications and cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors. He also presided over development of a case management system to facilitate the handling of cases within the office.

A Stillwater resident, Johnson said he plans to take full advantage of his retirement. He said he may do some guardian ad litem work on a volunteer basis, but plans to spend most of his time with family. Plans right now Johnson said are to continue enjoying life in the St. Croix Valley.

"We love Washington County," Johnson said. "We like being close to the Cities, but on the other hand we are far enough out so we are not in the middle of the Metro."

Johnson began his legal career in 1972 at a general private practice in Wadena, where he also served as the city attorney for 10 years and as the Wadena County attorney for four years, before being hired to work for Washington County. He is one of the few county attorneys who have been elected in two different counties, according to his bio on the Washington County website.

Johnson received his law degree from the University of Minnesota and his undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. He is a veteran and served with the U.S. Army in Korea.