Ron Meshbesher, noted Twin Cities attorney, dies at 85

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Ron Meshbesher
Ron Meshbesher.
Elizabeth Stawicki | MPR News 2007

Ron Meshbesher always knew he wanted to be a lawyer, telling an interviewer once that he liked to go to the courthouse as a kid to watch interesting trials.

That fascination with the law led to a long legal career that made him one of Minnesota's most recognizable criminal defense attorneys. Meshbesher died Wednesday at age 85. His family said he suffered from Alzheimer's disease in the last years of his life.

The Minneapolis-native grew up on the city's north side and was part of several big trials in Minnesota throughout his nearly 60 years as an attorney.

Meshbesher gained notoriety in the late 1970s when he won an acquittal for Marjorie Caldwell, who was accused of orchestrating the murder of her mother and a nurse at the Glensheen mansion in Duluth.

Meshbesher, who retired from his law practice in 2014, had a special way of connecting with jurors, said Mark Streed, longtime friend and partner at the firm Meshbesher and Spence.

"When he looked you in the eye he had this amazing ability to make you feel that you were the most special person in the world," Streed said. "He literally had eyes that twinkled."

Streed said Meshbesher's understanding of people played well in the courtroom.

"When he was cross-examining, a particularly unbelievable witness, and exposing the witness as a liar, he would turn, ever so slightly, and look over his glasses and share a moment or two of quiet with the jury." Streed said. "It was like he was saying, 'Can you believe this?'"