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John P. Devaney, Chief Justice 1933-1937

John P. Devaney

Portrait of Chief Justice John P Devaney

 

Chief Justice Devaney worked as a mediator to solve labor disputes, most notably as President Roosevelt’s appointment to the Emergency Board of Settlement as its Chairman.

 

John Patrick Devaney was the fourteenth Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, serving from September 7, 1933 to February 14, 1937 (3 years, 4 months, 14 days).

Born in Bristol, Iowa, on June 30, 1882, Devaney came to Minnesota in 1901 to study at the University of Minnesota. He received three degrees from University: a B.A. from the College of Liberal Arts in 1905, and an LL.B. and LL.M from the College of Law in 1907 and 1908, respectively. He was admitted to practice in 1907 and began his career at the Minneapolis law firm of George B. Leonard. Devaney later became the junior partner of Stiles & Devaney, which was dissolved in 1916. He was then senior partner of Devaney & Edwards until 1930 when he entered into solo practice. 

Devaney married Beatrice Langevin of Minneapolis in 1919. They had three children: John Patrick Jr. (1919), Beatrice Ida (1921), and Sheila Genevieve (1926).

On September 7, 1933, Governor Floyd B. Olson appointed Devaney Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, replacing retiring Chief Justice Samuel B. Wilson. He was then elected to that office in November, 1934. In 1933, Governor Olson appointed Chief Justice Devaney to be the chairman of the third Minnesota Crime Commission. He served on the Minnesota Supreme Court for just over three years, resigning in 1937 in order to be more active politically. 

Justice Devaney returned to private practice after his time on the Court and remained active in the profession serving as the first president of the National Lawyers’ Guild. He also worked as a mediator to solve labor disputes, most notably as President Roosevelt’s appointment to the Emergency Board of Settlement as its Chairman.  

In September 1941, Devaney was traveling to Washington DC. He became ill in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was unable to travel on to Chicago. He died on Sunday, September 21, 1941 of a cerebral hemorrhage, and was returned to Minnesota for burial. He was 59 years old.

You may read more about Justice Devaney in the resources, linked below, and the book Testimony: Remembering Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.

 

Image credits: Portrait of John P Devaney from Men in Minnesota: A Collection of the Portraits of Men Prominent in Business and Professional Life in Minnesota, 2nd. ed. (St. Paul: R. L. Polk & Co, 1915); John P. Devaney’s signature in the Roll of Attorneys, Supreme Court, State of Minnesota, 1858-1970, p. 91 (June 14, 1907). Available online at: https://reflections.mndigital.org/catalog/sll:12973#/image/0.