According to court historian Jeffrey Brandon Morris, Walter H. Sanborn was "among the most able judges" to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He served from 1892 to 1928, and wrote over 1,300 opinions.
On April 8, 1927, the St. Louis Bar Association sponsored a testimonial dinner for Judge Sanborn to honor his thirty-five years of service. A transcript of the speeches at this event was published later that year in a 180 page book, excerpts from which are posted in this article.
Judge Sanborn died in St. Paul on May 10, 1928, at age 82. On March 30, 1929, the Ramsey County Bar Association presented a memorial to him in district court.