Minnesota State Law Library
Mary Jeanne Coyne was born December 7, 1926 in Minneapolis to parents Vincent and May (Steinmetz) Coyne. She attended Washburn High School, graduating in 1944 as a salutatorian. After working for eight years in real estate, she decided to return to school for law. She earned a B.S.L. from the University of Minnesota in 1955. She graduated second in her class from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1957. While in law school, she served as a member of the Board of Editors and was an Associate Editor of the Minnesota Law Review. One of her classmates was Walter Mondale. From 1956-1957 she was a law clerk for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Leroy E. Matson. After her time as a clerk, she worked for Meagher and Greer from 1957 until she was appointed to the bench in 1982. While working at the firm, she argued over 100 cases in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
She was a member of the American, Minnesota, and Hennepin County Bar Associations; National Association of Women Judges; and National Association of Women Lawyers. She was an adjunct instructor in appellate advocacy at the University of Minnesota from 1964-1968. From 1971-1972 she edited the Women Lawyers Journal. She was a 'founding mother' of Minnesota Women Lawyers in 1972. She was appointed to the bench by Al Quie in 1982 and retired in 1996. She was the second woman appointed to the court, after Rosalie Wahl. Coyne died in Edina, Minnesota on August 6, 1996 from cancer.
You may read more about the life and work of Justice Coyne in the resources provided in this guide and in the book, Testimony: Remembering Minnesota's Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.