Several months before his death on September 3, 1935, Thomas Dillon O'Brien dictated his memoir. He never revised or even re-read it. It was typed the next year and 200 copies were printed by the St. Paul Dispatch in 1938. It is posted here.
He was a St. Paul lawyer. He was born on Madeline Island in 1859, moved with his family to St. Paul in 1865 and died there 70 years later. After reading law in a local firm, he was admitted to the bar in 1880. He served as Ramsey County Attorney in 1892-1893, a reformist Commissioner of Insurance in 1905-1907, and Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, 1909-1911. He was a founder of the St. Paul College of Law. In between he practiced law in the city.
His memoir is packed with rich anecdotes. During a break in oral argument before the U. S. Supreme Court in Ex Parte Young, in which he was one of the lawyers for the state, Justice Brewer left the bench to greet him and ask about his brothers. (p. 23) In a murder case he was prosecuting, William B. Irwin delivered what Judge Hascal Brill called the "most audacious" summation he had ever witnessed. (pp. 45-6) And then there was Judge William Lochren's dry response to a lawyer's slight about Irish lawyers and judges. (p. 32)
Future legal historians will find more than a few nuggets in Thomas O'Brien's autobiography while others interested in the histories of St. Paul and Minnesota will find it engrossing and educational.