Miles Lord

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Miles Lord
Miles Lord - Federal Portrait.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
In office
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
In office
April 28, 1966 – July 1, 1985
Appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Dennis F. Donovan
Succeeded by David S. Doty
Attorney General of Minnesota
In office
January 3, 1955 – May 4, 1960
Preceded by Joseph A. A. Burnquist
Succeeded by Walter Mondale
Personal details
Born Miles Welton Lord
(1919-11-06)November 6, 1919
Dean Lake, Minnesota, U.S.
Died December 10, 2016(2016-12-10) (aged 97)
Eden Prairie, Minnesota, U.S.
Children Jim, Priscilla, Miles Jr., Virginia
Alma mater University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Law School
Profession Judge, attorney

Miles Welton Lord (November 6, 1919 – December 10, 2016) was a federal judge, appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota by President Lyndon B. Johnson on February 10, 1966 to fill the vacancy left by Judge Dennis F. Donovan. He served as chief judge on the district court from 1981 to 1985 and retired in September 1985.[1] He then practiced law in Minnesota.[2]


Lord was born in Dean Lake, Minnesota. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1946 and his law degree from University of Minnesota Law School in 1948. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1945 and served as an Assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota in 1951. He became Minnesota’s Attorney General from 1955 to 1960 and a full U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota from 1961 until his appointment to the Federal bench in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson.[1] Judge Lord was the founding attorney of Lord & Associates Law Office. His daughter, Priscilla Lord now carries on her father's legacy at the law office, which now operates as Lord + Heinlein.

Lord lived in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His son Jim served in the Minnesota State Senate and as Minnesota State Treasurer and died on June 6, 2008. His eldest daughter, Priscilla Lord, ran against satirist Al Franken in the Democratic Party primary in 2008 for the Senate seat held by Norm Coleman. Miles Lord, Jr. (Mick) served as a top assistant to State Auditor Robert W. Mattson, Jr. and later managed the business affairs of the Miles Lord & Associates law office prior to his death on April 12, 2012. Miles' youngest daughter, Virginia, is a lawyer and real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Burnet in Wayzata, Minnesota. Lord died on December 10, 2016 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.[3]


Lord was called an activist judge.[4][5] His critics accuse him of using the law as a means to make corporations pay for the damages caused, both directly or indirectly, to people and to the environment.

Landmark decisions[edit]

In his first landmark and historic decision in 1973, when the Reserve Mining Company's processing plant at Silver Bay, Minnesota was dumping 47 tons of waste rock into Lake Superior every minute, Lord ultimately forced Reserve to stop dumping the pollutants, taconite tailings. In the Reserve Mining decision, Lord said, "This court cannot honor profit over human life."[6] Later, he pursued the A. H. Robins Company for malpractice in issuing the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device, which was on sale from 1970 to 1974 and caused at least 18 deaths and thousands of injuries (350,000 women have claimed injury).[7] The trial was for the injured, as he felt the deaths were too hard to "pinpoint the responsibility".

Lord's rebuke to the corporate heads held them personally accountable. To settle seven lawsuits, he made Robins' top three executive sign a $4.6 million settlement agreement and personally held them liable. The company ended up paying more than $220 million in compensation and $13 million in punitive damages to thousands of plaintiffs. In 1980 in the case of Shyamala Rajender versus the University of Minnesota, Lord ordered the university to desist from discrimination against women.

Judicial review[edit]

Because of his decisions in the Robbins case, a judicial review panel met to determine if there were errors on his professional and judicial conduct.[8] Lord was cleared of wrongdoing and went on to serve another year until his retirement.[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph A. A. Burnquist
Minnesota Attorney General
Succeeded by
Walter Mondale
Preceded by
Dennis F. Donovan
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
Succeeded by
David S. Doty