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Charles M. Start

Chief Justice

Born in Bakersfield, Vermont, October 4, 1839, Charles Monroe Start attended Barre Academy and read the law in the office of Judge William C. Wilson of Vermont. With the onset of the Civil War, Start enlisted in the tenth Vermont Infantry in 1862, and within a year, was commissioned first lieutenant. His service was cut short, however, when he was designated physically disabled by a surgeon’s certificate.  Start then relocated to Minnesota and took up the law once again, this time in the office of Charles C. Willson. He learned under Willson’s guidance until 1864 when he was elected to his first of many positions, City Attorney of Rochester. He remained City Attorney for several years and in November 1871, was elected County Attorney for Olmsted County. Start served eight years as County Attorney before being elected Attorney General of the State of Minnesota in 1879.  In 1881, due to the vacancy created by William Mitchell’s appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Governor Pillsbury appointed Start District Court Judge. Start served 14 years as district judge, succeeding in successive elections until January 7, 1895, when he was elected Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  Again, Start was successful in maintaining his position through subsequent elections until he retired in January 1913. Justice Start authored over one thousand opinions, which can be found in 61 volumes of the Minnesota Reports, from volume 60 to 120. 

Justice Start died in his home in Saint Paul on December 19, 1919. 

You may read more about the life and work of Justice Start in his memorial, linked below, and in the book Testimony: Remembering Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.

Charles Start Portrait
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