Prosecutor turned federal judge, Miles Lord was called an activist judge by his critics. This discussion revolves around Lord’s experiences growing up poor with an innate sense of justice, the dangers of Republicans on the Supreme Court, and the important cases in his career and the impact they had, including the Dalkon shield case against the A. H. Robins Company, and the environmental case against Reserve Mining Company, where Lord forced Reserve to stop dumping pollutants into Lake Superior.

What happened next?

This interview with Miles Lord was originally broadcast in 1992. At the time, Lord was working in private practice at the firm he founded following his retirement from the bench in 1985. At Miles W. Lord & Associates, Lord was joined at different times by all four of his children.

In a 1990 Minnesota Monthly article, when asked why he didn’t just fully retire when he left the federal court, Lord said, “I’ve seen too many people retire and die, promptly die. Or I’ve seen judges who’ve retired, sold their houses and moved to Arizona. They come back and park in front of their [former] house and cry. They want to be back in their house, and they want to be back on the bench. The way things are, I don’t have to sit around and worry about ‘What is this lump I feel here?’ Some day, I’ll be sitting around in a nursing home and there’ll be plenty of time for that.”

Lord did eventually leave his private practice in 2011 and passed away five years later in Eden Prairie at age 97. In this interview, he says he’ll be lucky if he lives to see his twin granddaughters graduate from high school. He hit that mark and then some.

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Listen to other episodes of Minnesota Portraits and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the Friends of Minnesota Experience.

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Want to learn more about the storied career of Miles Lord? Watch the hour-long documentary Miles Lord: Minnesota’s Maverick Judge, which offers a compelling portrait of the man who rose from humble beginnings on Minnesota’s Iron Range to become one of the most colorful and powerful judges in the country.

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