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George M. Scott, Associate Justice 1973-1987

George M. Scott

Portrait of George M. Scott


Justice Scott was born into poverty, fought in WWII and moved to Minnesota to marry his wife


George Matthew Scott was born September 14, 1922 in Clark Township, New Jersey. He was the youngest of eight children and grew up in a home without running water, gas, or electricity. In 1942, he joined the Army and was sent to the University of Minnesota to study engineering. He met Joyce Hughes, his future wife and her father, a lawyer there. By 1944 the army decided to end the engineering education program and sent Scott to Europe where he was part of the force landing on Normandy Beach on D-Day. When the war ended, Scott wanted to return to school as soon as possible and ended up attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he was pre-law. He started law school at NYU, but after the sudden death of Joyce's father, Scott moved to Minnesota, married Joyce and started attending the Minneapolis-Minnesota College of Law, which later became William Mitchell College of Law.

After finishing law school in 1951, he went into partnership with his friend, Douglas Amdahl who would later become Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He briefly joined the Attorney General's office as a Deputy Attorney General where he worked with Miles Lord. In 1955, he became the Hennepin County Attorney which led to notoriety on a national scale. He was president of the Minnesota County Attorney's Association in 1960 and president of the National District Attorney Association in 1964. He stayed in his District Attorney role for 18 years. He ran for governor in 1970, but was beat in the primary. Governor Wendell Anderson appointed him to the ninth seat on a newly expanded Minnesota Supreme Court in July of 1973. He remained on the court through re-election for 14 years until his health forced him to retire in 1987 in the middle of his term. He continued to be active after his retirement in philanthropic organizations, particularly the March of Dimes and Volunteers of America. He lived to be 83 and died May 25, 2006. He and his wife had five children and three of them eventually became attorneys in Minnesota.

You may read more about the work and life of Justice Scott in the resources provided in this guide and in the book, Testimony: Remembering Minnesota's Supreme Court Justices, which is a source of this brief biography.

George M. Scott's signature in the Roll of Attorneys

Image Credits: Portrait of Justice Scott from the Minnesota Supreme Court; George M. Scott's s signature October 10, 1951 in the Roll of Attorneys, Supreme Court, State of Minnesota, 1858-1970, p. 304. Available online at:

Additional Resources