Book chronicles testimonies of state Supreme Court justices

By Jeffrey Pieters

Until about 50 years ago, when a state Supreme Court justice died, an account of his life would be read to the standing court and logged in the court record. These accounts were called testimonies.

A collection of those life stories has been compiled and published in a book titled "Testimony: Remembering Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices." Copies of the book were donated on Friday to seven libraries across the state, including the Rochester Public Library, to coincide with the current celebration of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary of statehood.

A newly formed group, the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society, published the book as a first effort to fill a void in the state’s historical bookshelf.


The Supreme Court is "the kind-of forgotten branch" of state government, said John Arnold, a Rochester attorney serving on the board of the new historical society. "There’s no (previous) history of the Supreme Court. We’re losing who these people were."

In all, 76 justices are described in the book’s 300 pages. Copies will eventually be donated to 200 libraries around the state, and the Supreme Court Historical Society is considering whether to publish the book for sale to the general public. The book is worth about $25, Arnold said.

The book will be put on the library’s shelves on Monday, said library spokesman John Hunziker. It will likely be shelved in reference, he said.

For more information, go to

Rochester Public Library

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.