Ron Meshbesher | 85

The Minneapolis attorney knew the courts, knew the law, but most of all, insiders said, he knew the judges. 

If you were arrested for murder or anything else, Ron Meshbesher was the lawyer you wanted in your corner.

In the courtroom, he was smooth, confident and prepared, “the best of the best,” said James Gilbert, a law partner and later Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice.

So when comedian Tom Arnold was jailed in the late 1980s in Rochester, his one call was to Meshbesher, whom he met after performing at Liquor Lyle’s, a Minneapolis bar Meshbesher co-owned.

Arnold had finished a stand-up gig, got drunk and was kicked out of a McDonald’s. A police officer spotted him urinating in the parking lot. “What are you doing?” the officer asked.

“I’m making a cocktail,” Arnold responded. He and the officer scuffled and Arnold was arrested, then got into a fight with a jail inmate. He was put in a padded cell, facing several charges. He panicked. Roseanne Barr had invited him to appear on an HBO special in Los Angeles. He had to catch a Monday plane.

“It was my big break,” he recalled. “I told her I’d quit drinking. If I don’t get out of jail, I’m screwed. And there’s no way I’m going to get out. I needed a miracle. … I think to myself, ‘Ron Meshbesher, that’s a great lawyer. He’s known all over the country.’ ” He phoned Meshbesher, who said he’d see what he could do.

“Meshbesher called a judge who was out at a golf course,” said Arnold. On Sunday afternoon, Arnold was released. “The cop who let me out was so frustrated.” Arnold caught his plane to L.A., appeared on the HBO special, later married Barr (it lasted four years) and also starred on her TV show.

“I owe everything to Ron Meshbesher,” Arnold said. “That is no joke.”

Meshbesher never sent him a bill.

Randy Furst