Kevin B. Spaeth

Born in 1950 and raised in Massachusetts, Kevin was of Irish descent and had the red hair and stature to match. Kevin graduated UND Law School. In fact, a law school newspaper asked Kevin what his goal was in life was, to which Kevin replied “To be the most famous guy named Kevin”, which is classic Kevin Spaeth humor. Kevin along with John Thelen as well as a host of other attorneys who came in went over the years operated a law firm out of old funeral home behind the Courthouse. The firm generally became known as the “Spaeth Law Firm”. It was a classic “eat what you kill” law firm with some shared work which covered some overhead, but left the individual partners to fend for themselves for their livelihood. Like Tom Jelliff, Kevin was a “shoot from the hip” criminal defense attorney, who gained locally notoriety for some high profile cases in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Kevin also loved music he played the drums and the guitar…and I mean he could rock the guitar! Kevin also had a sarcastic wit which could leave you in stitches.

As for Kevin and I, I joined the Spaeth & Thelen law firm in early 2005, on Kevin’s invitation, seeking a change. Well, I found it. I won’t necessarily say Kevin was a mentor, but he did have a way to keep me grounded especially as I got used to the ups and down of life working on a Indigent Defense Contract (i.e. public defender). Kevin also had a way of finding good in everybody, even the most hardened criminal or incompetent attorney, if he ever criticized anybody he would alway temper it or put it in some context by then saying something good about him or her. For instance, one attorney in town who was particularly detested he once described as “he is just that attorney who a makes goofy arguments and every town needs an attorney who makes goofy arguments.” I remember one incident where Kevin had worked hard with the State to come up with a plea agreement for a client who was facing a whole host of charges. However, on the day before sentencing, the guy got in a car chase with police and landed in jail on a whole range of new charges. I recall Kevin talking to him on the phone from the jail screaming at him “No offense–Your an idiot!–No offense–Your an idiot!” over and over again. Classic Kevin Spaeth–willing to criticize, but never really willing to offend someone even if they honestly deserved it.

Kevin’s heart gave out and he died at a far to young age 56 in 2006. He left behind his wife, Janet, and their two children. When I visit Tom Jelliff’s grave, I always walk a few rows over to see my friend Kevin. Rock on Kevin.