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Former U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle was named one of Minnesota Lawyer’s 2017 Attorneys of the Year for outstanding service to the legal profession. (File photo)

Richard Kyle, esteemed former U.S. District judge, has died

Former U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle, who presided over some of Minnesota’s biggest cases in his quarter-century on the bench, died June 22. He was 84.

Kyle received both his B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Minnesota, where he served as president of the Minnesota Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif, the law school said in a release Monday.

Kyle served as law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Devitt. He then joined the law firm of Briggs and Morgan where, with the exception of a two-year stint as Minnesota solicitor general, he practiced until 1992, when President George H.W. Bush nominated him to serve on the U.S. District Court, the release said.

As judge, Kyle was associated with some of the biggest trials in state history, such as those of transplant surgeon Dr. John Najarian (acquitted of violating drug safety rules), financial fraudster Tom Petters (sentenced to 50 years), and defamation plaintiff Jesse Ventura (won at trial, reversed on appeal, settled).

According to the law school’s release, Kyle assumed senior status in 2005 and continued to carry a full caseload until he retired from active service in 2017. He served as a member of the Committee on Model Jury Instructions for the 8th Circuit and a member of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure. He also oversaw the District’s remodeling of the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in St. Paul.

Kyle was named one of Minnesota Lawyer’s 2017 Attorneys of the Year for outstanding service to the legal profession. “It’s been a good life,” he told Minnesota Lawyer at the time. “…I’ve been very fortunate, I have no complaints. If I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis.

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