Former ND Supreme Court Justice Herbert L. Meschke dies at 89

Former North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Herbert L. Meschke died at his home near Minot on Friday. Meschke was 89.

Meschke was a veteran Minot lawyer when he was named to the state’s high court in 1985 by Gov. George Sinner to fill a vacancy.

In a story in the Minot Daily News when Meschke and Beryl Levine, who also was appointed to fill a vacancy on the N.D. Supreme Court, were sworn in as justices in February 1985, Minot lawyer Mark Purdy, who practiced with Meschke in Minot, described him as a “lawyer’s lawyer.”

“It is well-known that Herb’s intellect is superior, ever probing and analytical,” Purdy said. He said the law firm was always proud to call Meschke their partner.

Meschke was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles J. Vogel in Fargo before joining the Minot law firm of Ilvedson, Pringle and Herigstad.

Reflecting about his appointment to the state Supreme Court, Meschke told the Minot Daily News he was both honored and grateful. “It is the most single honor for a member of the legal profession to become a supreme court justice,” he said. “Things like this don’t happen without a lot of widespread help and support.”

Meschke was elected to a four-year term in 1986 and reelected to a 10-year term in November 1990. He retired in the late 1990s.

He was considered one of North Dakota’s top co-op lawyers and had a number of cooperatives as clients. In an interview in 1985 in the North Dakota REC magazine, he recalled the first case he worked on as a freshman lawyer involved Verendrye Electric Cooperative, based at Velva. At stake was whether Verendrye bylaws permitted proxy voting (which was used at an annual meeting to elect a slate of directors). In a battle decided by the N.D. Supreme Court, the court ruled that Verendrye’s bylaws did not permit proxy voting so a different board of directors was elected. “It continues to stand out in my mind as being one of the most important I’ve ever worked on,” Meschke said.

Meschke also served in the North Dakota Legislature. He was elected to the North Dakota House from Ward County in 1964, then moved to the Senate and served as Senate minority leader for the Democratic-NPL Party in the late 1960s, according to Minot Daily News information.

A Celebration of Life service will be held for Meschke on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Vincent United Methodist Church in Minot. Thomas Family Funeral Home, Minot, is in charge of arrangements.