Minnesota State Law Library
John J. Todd was born on March 16, 1927 in South St. Paul, Minnesota. He attended St. Augstine's Grade School in South St. Paul and graduated from Cretin High School in June 1944. During high school, he worked at the stockyards in South St. Paul with his family. He wanted to join the Navy, but his father told him he was too young and he should go to college for one semester. Todd attended one semester at St. Thomas and then joined the Navy for twenty months. When he returned in Minnesota in 1946, he enrolled again at St. Thomas. Todd initially planned to study medicine, but later changed his mind and decided to pursue a career in law. He decided to participate in a pre-law program that allowed him to complete two years at St. Thomas and then transfer to the University of Minnesota to finish law school.
In December 1950, Todd graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. Due to a change in the school's calendar system, Todd was able to take the bar exam prior to graduating and was sworn in as an attorney just two weeks after graduation. He practiced law in South St. Paul from 1950 until 1972, practicing alongside legislators, future judges, and future governor Wendell Anderson. He described his practice as a generalist practice, covering criminal law, family, and personal injury cases. He was appointed a part time special municipal judge in 1951. From March 1965 to January 1972, he also served on the Minnesota Tax Court part time.
On January 3, 1972, Governor Wendell Anderson appointed Todd as an Associate Justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court, replacing Justice Martin A. Nelson. While on the Supreme Court, Todd was an early proponent of adopting technology such as word processors and computerized records.
On March 9, 1985, Justice Todd resigned from the Minnesota Supreme Court following allegations of impropriety. Todd disputed the allegations and stated "My conscience is clear." Todd returned to private practice in South St. Paul.
Throughout his career, Todd has been a member of the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, and the American Trial Lawyers Association. He is a past president of the First District Bar Association, State of Minnesota.