Minnesota State Law Library
William Christian Christianson was born on a farm in South Dakota on December 5, 1892. He attended high school at the Austin Academy and met his life-long friend and future law partner, C.H. Bentley. Christianson graduated from Highland Park College in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1920, he received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. William Christianson served in the Navy in World War I.
In 1922, Christianson opened a law practice with his friend C.H. Bentley. He practiced law from 1922 -1946 in the Bentley & Christianson law firm in Red Wing. Christianson also served as Assistant County Attorney for Goodhue County for four years and City Attorney of Red Wing for nine years. In 1927, he married Myrtle Lorenz, a school teacher. They had one son.
Governor Edward Thye appointed Christianson to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1946. Christianson was on the Court less than a year, as he lost his election. He authored 15 opinions while on the Court.
In 1947, President Harry Truman appointed William Christianson to serve as a judge on the Nuremberg Military Tribunal in Europe. The trials lasted until the spring of 1949. Christianson was proud that the trials established the precedent of individual responsibility for international crime.
Returning to Minnesota in 1949, Governor Youngdahl appointed William Christianson as judge in the First Judicial District. He served until his retirement in 1963. Christianson then became a part-time judge in Hennepin County.
William C. Christianson died on May 27, 1985.
You may read more about the work and life of Justice Christianson 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.