Plainspoken Judge

John Simonett (Star Tribune)Former Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice John Simonett was known for writing decisions even non-lawyers could understand, according to the obituary Abby Simons wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Simons said:

It wasn’t long after John Simonett joined the Minnesota Supreme Court that the words “Simonett Opinion” began to mean something.

It was a judgment, the state’s legal community quickly learned, that wasn’t just well-crafted from a lawyerly standpoint, but also told a story. In most cases, it could be understood even by non-lawyers.

Simons included humor in Simonett’s obit.

In 1963, he wrote a satirical essay called “The Common Law of Morrison County,” where he opined upon imaginary unwritten rules, such as that no will should be signed with a ballpoint pen and executed on a Sunday. “This will mean going to see a lawyer and paying money, which might have otherwise been used for worthwhile pursuits, to get the mess straightened out,” he wrote.

Simonett “delivered a seminal quote during the 1985 case of an attorney accused of misconduct in advertising:”

“Simply because free speech allows us to make fools of ourselves is no reason we should avail ourselves of the opportunity.”

Read the full obituary then share condolences and your own “Simonett opinions” in his Guest Book.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.