John W. Boerner

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John W. Boerner was born on August 16, 1874 at the Army post of Fort Hays, Kansas where his father was stationed. His family moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota when he was five years old.  His father initially worked as a bookkeeper, but later joined the St. Paul Police force, where he achieved the rank of captain.  Young John Boerner attended Cretin High School in Saint Paul.  Later he played amateur baseball, starting on both the Northern Pacific and Knights of Columbus teams.  After that he went to work for the Great Northern and Omaha railroads while he took evening classes at the St. Paul College of Law (Now William Mitchell).  He graduated in 1903 and went into private practice.  At some point Boerner married “Marguerite,” and they had two daughters.

Boerner also went into private practice, later becoming Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, first under Thomas D. O’Brien, and then under Richard D. O’Brien. Boerner was elected District Court Judge in 1923, defeating Judge Frederick M. Catlin (appointed the previous year). He was re-elected to four more terms, finally retiring in 1949. (He was 73 years old, which was the mandatory retirement age for judges back then.)  He died on November 9, 1955 at Miller Hospital due to complications of a heart condition. He was 81 years old.


Royden S. Dane

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Royden Smith Dane was born on December 24, 1893 in the Minnesota Iron Range town of Biwabik.  He spent his youth working in logging and mining camps.    Here he learned to operate steam shovels and fire locomotives, and even held a boiler operator license for years.   Through his life he remained proud of his humble beginnings.

He entered the University of Minnesota, but left to join the Army when World War I began. After serving in this capacity for 18 months, he returned and entered the St. Paul College of Law.  He graduated in 1926 and was admitted to the bar that same year.  He spent 17 years in private practice before he was appointed as Municipal Court Judge in 1943.  He was elected to the Ramsey District bench in 1946 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Hugo Hanft.  In 1956 he married Roseville teacher Fern Nelson.  Judge Dane suffered a heart attack in his chambers on February 4, 1959 and died four days later at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  He was 64 years old.

Judge Dane was a colorful storyteller, plus an avid horse trainer and conservationist.  He kept a duck farm between Lexington and Victoria Avenues, between County roads E and F (present day Shoreview).  He was also active in the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Shown in the painting wearing a fresh flower and a friendly smile, Judge Dane just might be the most handsome image in the judge portrait collection.  Having died in office, Judge Dane wouldn’t have posed for a traditional portrait as part of a judicial retirement. The Law Librarian speculates that his portrait might have been based on a snapshot taken at his wedding three years earlier.



Bar Endorses Dane for Judge, St. Paul Dispatch, Oct. 1943

District Judge R.S. Dies, St. Paul Dispatch, Feb. 7. 1959.

Just How Does a Judge Relax?  St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 17, 1953



Judge Charles Bechhoefer (1864-1932)

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Charles Bechhoefer was born on January 1, 1864 at Woodbury, Pennsylvania.  He graduated from the University of Michigan Law Department in 1985.  He moved to Minnesota shortly thereafter, arriving in St. Paul on July 4th, 1885.  He was admitted to Minnesota practice on July 25, only three weeks after his arrival.  He worked as law clerk in the firm W. H. and John B. Sanborn for the next two years, after which he started his own practice of probate, real estate, and taxation law.  He continued this solo practice until he was appointed Judge of the Ramsey County District Court by Governor Preuss on January 23, 1923.

Bechhoefer married Helen Goldman at Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania on April 28, 1892.  They had two children.  Helen died on October 24, 1917, shortly after which her surviving sister Caroline Goldman came from Pennsylvania and took charge of Bechhoefer’s household.  Judge Bechhoefer married Caroline on November 8, 1924.

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the final district court order issued by Judge Bechhoefer in the case of In re Estate of Taylor,  222NW 528 (1928), holding that the state could levy an inheritance tax on Minnesota-based state and municipal bonds, even though the deceased lived in New York.  Two years later on appeal, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Minnesota Supreme Court decision, holding in the case of Farmers Loan & Trust Co. v. State of Minnesota, 280 U.S. 204 (1930) that a state may not tax anything beyond the boundaries of its jurisdiction without violating the 14th Amendment (280 U.S. 204).    Farmers Loan & Trust came to be a much-cited case in regards to inheritance taxes and states’ powers of taxation.

On March 10, 1931, Judge Bechhoefer resigned from the bench due to ill health.  He died on January 25, 1932, and was buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota.


The Ramsey County Bar Association, MEMORIAL:  Judge Charles Bechhoefer (1864-1932), THE MINNESOTA LEGAL HISTORY PROJECT;,d.aWw

Judge Bechhoefer Weds, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Nov. 9, 1924


Charles D. Kerr (1835-1896)

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Charles Deal Kerr was born in 1835 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His family moved to Jacksonville, Illinois when he was a child, but his father died soon thereafter.  Young Charles soon assumed the position of looking after his widowed mother and four younger brothers and sisters.  Nonetheless, he graduated from Illinois College at Jacksonville in 1857.

He began working in the law office of Samuel Miller (later a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) of Keokuk Illinois in 1858.  He was an “original” Republican that actively participated in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1861, but enlisted as a private in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry shortly after Fort Sumpter was fired upon.  He was commissioned a full colonel by the end of the Civil War.  Army life had been hard on his health, however.  He came to Minnesota in 1865, hoping that the climate would do him good.

Kerr first settled in St. Cloud and entered law practice with James McKelvey. In about 1867 he became county attorney of Sherburne County, and also served as mayor of St. Cloud for several years.  Shortly after McKelvey became judge of the 7th District, Charles Kerr moved to St. Paul.  It was about this time, in 1874, that he married Mary E. Bennett of Rochester New York.  They had one daughter and two sons.  In addition to his St. Paul law practice, Kerr served as an alderman and President of the “Common Council” of St. Paul.  As a lawyer he was a powerful and sought-after orator.  “His arguments were clear and simple and lifted the veil of doubt from the minds of the most obtuse juror.”  In 1888 he was appointed to the Ramsey County District Court.

By 1896 Judge Kerr had apparently given up his previous belief about Minnesota’s climate and its health benefits.  That December he traveled to San Antonio Texas with his wife, hoping that rest and the warmer climate there would help his health.  Judge Kerr died on December 25, 1896 at the age of 61 the day after arriving at his destination.  The only cause given for his demise was “heart trouble.”



His Life Work Over, Judge Kerr Passes Away in San Antinio, Tex., St. Paul Globe, December 27, 1896 pg. 3


Oscar Hallam (1865-1945)

Oscar Hallam

Oscar Hallam

Oscar Hallam was born on a farm near Linden WI in 1865, the youngest of seven children.  In 1892 he married Edith Lott.   He received his bachelors degree from University of Wisconsin in 1887, and his law degree from that institution in 1889.  Shortly thereafter he moved to St. Paul and took up the practice of law.   He was appointed to the Second Judicial District in 1905.  From there he was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1912.  He served on this bench for ten years until he resigned in order to run for the United States Senate in 1924. Following his defeat in the primaries, he returned to the practice of law in St. Paul.

Hallam was Dean of the St. Paul College of Law (now William Mitchell College of Law) from 1901 to 1941, and from thereafter as President of the college until his death.  His 23 year stint as dean was longer than anyone else’s in the school’s history.  Under Hallam, the college also gained its ABA accreditation in 1938.   A respected figure in criminal law, in 1926 he served as Chairman of the Minnesota Crime Commission.  During this time he helped originate the State Department of Criminal Apprehension and the Board of Parole.  He also served as Chairman of the Section on Criminal Law of the American Bar Association.  He authored much-cited Some Object Lessons on Publicity in Criminal Trials, 24 MN Law Rev. 453 (March 1940).  This article details the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptman, who was ultimately convicted of the abduction and murder of the Lindbergh baby.

Hallam wrote a series of sketches about his youth which were published in the Minnesota Historical Society periodical.  (27 MINNESOTA HISTORY 2 (June 1946)) In his Bloomfield and Number Five sketch, he describes his parents’ immigration to the United States, and his own growing up years.  Oscar Hallam died on September 23, 1945.  Oscar Hallam even has a Wikipedia page devoted to him.

Other Sources:

Douglas R. Heidenreich, With Satisfaction and Honor:  William Mitchell College of Law 1900-2000, (William Mitchell College of Law 1999).

Proceedings in Memory of Association Justice Ingerval M. Olsen and Associate Justice Oscar Hallam, 220 Minn. xxix (1946)


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Many guests who come to the Law Library ask about our judge portrait collection, and comment with admiration on the late Edward V. Brewer’s masterful painting style.  With Brewer’s reputation, it is not surprising that the other portrait artists seem to suffer by comparison.  The prime case in point is that of artist James Artig, who painted the portraits of Judge Carlton McNally and Judge Marshall Hurley.  The Law Librarian would like to shed some light on the late Mr. Artig, and hopefully pay some credit to his artistic legacy.

James Lonsdale Artig was born in 1921.  Reading this obituary of Judge McNally’s daughter Catherine, we learn that she was married to Artig, and that together they had five children.  We can see that the portrait of Judge McNally was dated 1960, and know that it was painted by his son-in-law.  The Hurley painting is not dated, but given that Hurley served from 1959-1960, it is safe to say it was painted within the same time frame.  It is highly possible, though not certain, that Artig landed this portrait gig through family connections. James and Catherine Artig divorced in 1973, and he died on February 28, 1991.

Artig’s artistic style cannot be fully appreciated from these two judge portraits.  In contrast to Brewer’s delicate brush strokes and subtle lighting, Artig’s artistic style featured stronger lines and heavier use of white pigments.  It turns out that Artig built his reputation on painting rugged outdoor scenes and wildlife.  Serving trays painted by Artig depict moose, antelope, and other wildlife.  See also this painting done for the Hamm Brewing Company, which features a bright outdoor scene of sailboats under a summer sky.  So to judge Artig simply on two judge portraits is to really underestimate his strengths as an artist. If you have additional information regarding artist James Lonsdale Artig, please share it with us!


Edwin Ames Jaggard (1859-1911)


Edwin Ames Jaggard was born on June 21, 1859 in Altoona Pennsylvania.  He graduated from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) in 1879, and received his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Pennsylvania in 1882.  He came to Minnesota that same year, and joined the St. Paul law practice of Young & Lightner.  In 1890 he married Anna May Averill. He was elected to the Ramsey County District Court in 1898.  He served as a district judge for one term, and was then elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1904.

A reputable legal scholar, Jaggard was a lecturer on medical jurisprudence at the St. Paul Medical College.  He went on to lecture at what is now the University of Minnesota Law School for 19 years, where then-Law School Dean W.S. Pattee stated that Jaggard was one of the most popular professors of the department.  He was also the author of several treatises on torts and taxation, including the familiar Jaggard on Torts.  The last work he did on the bench was the opinion of the court in the case of Keever v. City of Mankato (113 Minn. 55) establishing that a city is responsible for the quality of water it furnishes to its citizens.

Judge Jaggard was known as a popular and generous man, whose Christmas gift recipients list contained roughly three hundred names.   A post-mortem tribute tells of him placing his overcoat on the shoulders of a homeless person one cold day, and forgetting about it.   He was also an avid outdoorsman.  He was known to go fishing in the Mississippi River at the end of his workday, and commented favorably on the quality of the aquatic life therein.

He served as Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court until his death on February 13, 1911 from heart failure while on a trip to Bermuda.  He was only fifty-one years old.   It was thought that his body was weakened due to a case of ptomaine poisoning (or just food poisoning).


  • “His death was unexpected:  Demise of Judge Jaggard of Minnesota Court,” The Bemidji Daily Pioneer Feb. 15, 1911, p. 4
  • “Hobbies of Judges,” Saint Paul Globe, May 25, 1902, p. 30
  • History of the Bench and Bar of Minnesota, Legal Publishing and Engraving Company (1904)
  • “A man named Jaggard,” St. Paul Dispatch Feb. 20, 1911,
  • “Death of jurist regretted by all,” St. Paul Pioneer Press Feb. 15, 1911,
  • Proceedings:  Memory of Associate Justice Jaggard, 113 Minn. R. 1-10 (1911)

William Sprigg Hall

William Sprigg Hall

William Sprigg Hall

William Sprigg Hall was born on July 9, 1832 at South River in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.  He came to St. Paul, MN in 1854. That same year he was admitted to practice law and formed a law partnership with Harwood Inglehart.  (Minn. Reports 20, xi) In 1856 he was appointed Superintendent of the Common Schools of Minnesota, wherein he served for two years.    He married Elizabeth Seliman Welsh in 1857. That same year he was elected to the first Minnesota Senate as a Democrat, and served until 1860.

The Minnesota Court of Common Pleas was established in 1867 to handle the increase in business and resulting judicial backlog of the Ramsey County District Court.  Hall was promptly elected to this new position.*  (Williams, A History of the City of Saint Paul, and of the County or Ramsey, Minnesota, 428) As Judge, Hall worked with his colleagues and platted 160 new acres on St. Paul’s East Side.  Hall Ave. is named for him, with Arundel St., Kent St. and Maryland Ave. all being named for his birthplace.  Floral-themed street names (Geranium, Ivy, Rose, etc.) were designated as a play on his middle name, imagined as ‘sprigs’ of flowering plants.  (Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society 17, p. 624-5)

In 1869 Judge Hall presided over a criminal trial which featured Minnesota’s first black jurors. (Five of the jurors on the panel were black men.)  The facts are murky, but it was theorized that the Judge and the Sheriff orchestrated this mixed jury so as “to send a message” of sorts. (Green, A Peculiar Imbalance: the fall and rise of racial equality in early Minnesota, 174)  Judge Hall later heard a case involving a boy who became injured playing on a railroad turntable.  The Judge ruled in favor of the railroad, stating that there were no legal grounds on which to hold in favor of the trespassing boy. Upon its appeal, however, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an opinion reversing Hall’s judgment that helped form the basis of modern tort law’s “attractive nuisance” doctrine. (Keffe v. Milwaukee & St. P. Ry. Co., 21 Minn. 207 (1875); Karsten, Heart versus Head: judge-made law in nineteenth-century America, 211)

Following a period of shaky health, Judge Hall was returning home to St. Paul from a trip to back to Maryland when he died aboard the train.  Only forty-two years old, he left behind a widow, two sons, and three daughters.  (Minn. Reports 20, x)

*This position was later merged into the Ramsey County District Court Bench.

Loevinger (before)

Loevinger (before)

Loevinger (after)

Loevinger (after)

This week ten of our historic judges came back from the much-needed R and R (restoration and repair) sabbatical they took in September. All of us at the Law Library are amazed and impressed by the excellent work done by Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis. As you recall from this post, the library received a Legacy Grant which made this excellent work possible. Our Legacy Grant was financed with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

The restoration work that was done to the portraits did much in the way of smoothing wrinkles and impurities that were present in the canvasses, as well as restoring the vivid colors and details. Much “dirt/grime” had also been removed from all of the canvass surfaces. (Smoking used to be permitted in the Law Library. Similar to the way medical experts warn us, secondhand smoke had also taken a toll on the health and appearances of the portraits.) As an example of the excellent work that was done, consider the before and after shots of Judge Loevinger. The hole in his coat has been repaired, and the entire canvass has been treated to eliminate glare and bumps, illuminating the rich purple of Loevinger’s tie. Also consider how Judge Palmer’s canvass has now been, shall we way…moisturized(?), thus alleviating the severe brittleness and wrinkling that developed over time.  (Note:  The Law Librarian apologizes for any differences in these thumbnails which may be due to lighting and photo exposures.)  

Palmer (before)

Palmer (before)

Palmer (after)

Palmer (after)

So stop into the Ramsey County Law Library to help welcome our distinguished gentlemen back home.


Frederick Miles Catlin


Frederick M. Catlin

Frederick M. Catlin

Frederick Miles Catlin was born in Erie Pennsylvania on October 31, 1859. He graduated from Cornell University in 1881. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1994. Feeling the “Call of the West” in 1994, he started out for Seattle. He was changing trains in St. Paul and met up with friends, who persuaded him to stay. He was admitted to the Minnesota Bar that same year, and began practicing law in St. Paul. In 1898 he married Bertha Crosman, with whom he had two daughters: Eleanor and Elizabeth.  Catlin served in the Minnesota National Guard as a First Lieutenant and Judge Advocate. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant of the 15th Minnesota Infantry when the Spanish-American War broke out, and remained in service until the war closed in 1899. He ran for the state legislature in 1900, but was defeated.

He returned to the practice of law until 1911, when he was appointed Vice-President of the St. Paul Police Board. The Board President resigned shortly thereafter, and Catlin was thus appointed to that office. When the Chief of Police John O’Connor abruptly resigned and no proper successor could be found, Catlin became the Acting Chief of Police. According to The St. Paul Globe, O’Connor deliberately resigned 5 months before the mayoral election so as to send the City into a “reign of terror” and discredit then-Mayor Kelly. (The St. Paul Globe – 5-2-1912) Catlin sought to bring “efficiency” to the Department, organizing the Police Traffic Squad in 1912. But Catlin told reporters that he did not like police work and was a lawyer at heart. (Catlin was one of three Acting Chiefs from 1912-1913, before O’Connor was reinstated in 1914. According to information from the St. Paul Police Historical Society, Chief O’Connor reigned from 1900 to 1920 with the exception of a 2 year period during this time. Typically, politically connected men would be forced out of positions when a new mayor of different political stripes came into power. )

In 1913, Catlin’s police career finally ended when was appointed to the Ramsey County District bench to complete the unexpired 2-year term of Judge Hallam. During his term he issued an injunction against state law that ordered a minimum wage for women and minor workers. (The New York Times – 11-24-1914.) He then returned to the practice of law, only to be appointed again to fill the unexpired 2-year term of Judge Dickson in 1921. This term ended in 1923, after which he again returned to the practice of law. His health slowly deteriorated, and he died in 1929.

Catlin’s career may be a reflection of how political the community was at the time. He may have been an attractive “neutral” candidate during a corrupt era for many of these appointed positions that he held, as he lacked longstanding family or school connections in this area. For the same reason, he may have lacked a loyal voting base which could have carried him to an electoral victory.

The Law Librarian thanks the individuals at the St. Paul Police Historical Society, as well as the St. Paul Public Library and their excellent newspaper clipping collection for their assistance with this blog post.

POST-CORRECTION (Added November 6, 2013):   O’Connor’s resignation and the resulting “reign of terror” were described by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, not the St. Paul Globe.  The Mayor at the time was Herbert Keller, not Kelly.