Federal Courthouse renamed for Edward J. Devitt, UND Law Class of '35

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School of Law


Courthouse renamed: 'Most fitting tribute' to Devitt conducted in Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Senior Judge Myron H. Bright, a friend and colleague of the late Judge Edward J. Devitt, remembers getting calls from Judge Devitt, saying he was coming to Fergus Falls to preside over cases at the United States Courthouse "'Let's get up to that Detroit Lakes Country Club and play a little golf,'" Judge Bright said, recalling Judge Devitt's part of the conversation. "And that we did. He loved coming to Fergus Falls."

Various judges, lawyers and government officials shared thoughts and stories about Judge Edward J. Devitt at Tuesday's renaming ceremony. The federal courthouse, at 118 S. Mill St., will be named the Edward J. Devitt united States Courthouse and Federal Building. Judge Bright spoke about his friend Tuesday at the renaming ceremony for Judge Devitt. The United States District Courthouse at 118 South Mill St. will officially be named the Edward J. Devitt United States Courthouse and Federal Building.

Devitt was born in St. Paul, May 5, 1911, the son of Thomas P. and Ethel (McGuire) Devitt. He attended St. Paul public schools until the death of his father in 1921, at which time the family moved to East Grand Forks, Minnesota. While attending school in St. Paul he was a classmate of Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun, who both later became justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. From 1926 to 1932 he attended St. John's Preparatory School and University (Collegeville, Minnesota) and from 1932 to 1935 he attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where he received his law degree.

His legal career began in 1935 with his election as an East Grand Forks municipal judge (1935-1939). He was later appointed an assistant Minnesota attorney general (1939-1942), a Ramsey County probate judge (1950-1954); and a U.S. district judge (1954-1992).

Devitt was elected to the Fourth Congressional District seat in 1946 and lost it in 1948 to Eugene J. McCarthy. He served as a lieutenant commander to the Seventh Fleet in U.S. Navy intelligence during World War II (1942-1946). Devitt married Marcelle LaRose MacRae of Mandan, North Dakota on April 22, 1939. He died at the age of 80 in St. Paul on March 2, 1992.