In January 1922, forty-eight year old Howard Wheeler was appointed Probate Judge of Ramsey County. He stood without opposition in elections in November 1922, 1926, and 1930. By all accounts, he was an exemplary jurist. After the last election, he was appointed to the district court by Governor Christianson. His service there was brief. He died suddenly on September 2, 1931. On March 26th of the following year, memorials were presented to him by the Ramsey County Bar Association and Judge Richard A. Walsh, his successor.
In his remarks, Judge Walsh noted that the "Green Lantern Cafe Case" was one of Judge Wheeler's notable trials. It arose on the evening of March 19, 1931, when John Quinn shot and killed Frank Ventress at the Green Lantern Cafe on Wabasha Street in St. Paul. He fled but was arrested about six weeks later, and charged with first degree murder. He did not deny that he shot Venteress but contended that he acted in self defense. His jury trial began on May 26, 1931, newly-appointed Judge Howard Wheeler presiding. The jury found Quinn guilty of second degree murder, and he appealed. On May 27, 1932, nine months after Howard Wheeler's death, the Minnesota Supreme Court found no reversible errors in the conduct of the trial and affirmed the conviction. Sometime thereafter, Quinn moved for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence, namely that a state witness recanted his trial testimony. Judge Kenneth Brill denied the motion, and another appeal taken. On June 15, 1934, the Supreme Court affirmed that order.
Both bar memorials and the two rulings of the Supreme Court comprise this article.