William Codman practiced law in Winona, Minnesota, from 1897, when he was admitted to the bar, to 1954, when he retired. His belief in community service led him to the presidency of the Charter Commission, a term as Special Judge of the Municipal Court and five years as City Prosecutor. In the 1930s he turned his interests to local history. He was one of the founders of the Winona County Historical Association, and churned out many articles on the history of Winona that were published in the local newspaper. In a memorial after his death in 1958 at age eighty-nine, the Memorial Committee of the Winona County Bar Association called him the city's "most ardent historian."
Drafters of bar memorials rarely cite a particular case in which the deceased represented a party. Codman's Memorial Committee disregarded this unwritten rule by mentioning his "most noted case" -- his defense of C. W. Anding, the county auditor, who was found guilty in federal court in 1918 of violating the espionage act, and sentenced by Judge Page Morris to 18 months in Leavenworth Prison. In a hearing on September 27, 1918, Codman argued for two hours and twenty minutes in support of his motion for a new trial. In an ingenious tactical maneuver, he produced a letter from the Judge Advocate General of the United States supporting his argument. Impressed and doubting Anding's guilt, Morris took the motion under advisement. Seven months later, he granted a new trial, and later that year, the U. S. Attorney dropped the charges. Newspaper articles about the Anding case are posted in the Appendix.