Edward Devitt

Edward Devitt (1911-1992) was born into an Irish working class family in Saint Paul. He attended Van Buren Elementary School where he was a younger schoolmate of Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun. After the death of his father in 1921, the family moved to East Grand Forks, Minnesota. From 1926 to 1932 he attended St. John's Preparatory School and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota and from 1932 to 1935 he went to the University of North Dakota where he earned his law degree.

Devitt’s legal career began in 1935 with his election as an East Grand Forks municipal judge. Four years later he was later appointed an assistant Minnesota attorney general until 1942 when he went into the armed forces. He served as a lieutenant commander to the Seventh Fleet in U.S. Navy intelligence during World War II until 1946.

Edward Devitt (1911-1992) was elected to the Fourth Congressional District seat as a Republican in 1946, but lost the seat two years later to Eugene McCarthy. After his short-lived political career he returned to the bench as a Ramsey County probate judge and became a U.S. district judge in 1954, serving until 1981. He died in St. Paul in March 1992 at the age of 80.

Judge Devitt was the co-author of Federal Jury Practice and Instructions and chaired the American Bar Association Legal Advisory Committee on Fair Trial-Free Press. His most notable cases were the 1961 racketeering trial of Minneapolis gangster Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld, and the Reserve Mining environmental pollution trial of the mid 1970’s. The Devitt home at 716 Van Buren (today’s Surrey) has been torn down and, perhaps fittingly, the land on which it stood is part of the grounds of his old school.