Photo of Howard Bass

Howard Bass

Rated by Super Lawyers
Best Lawyers | Lawyer of the Year | Howard I. Bass | Criminal Defense: General Practice | Minneapolis | 2017


A Chicago native, Howard Bass enrolled at Mankato State University in 1977 to play football.  He was elected student association president in 1980 and graduated the following year in the top 10% of his class with a degree in political science and economics.

Howard returned to Chicago to attend DePaul University Law School in 1981.  He received the American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law in 1982, became a managing editor of the DePaul Law Review the following year, and graduated in the top 10% of his class in 1984.

Fresh out of law school, Howard moved to the Mississippi Delta, the poorest part of America's poorest state, where he practiced as the Assistant Washington County Public Defender in Greenville, Mississippi, from 1984 to 1988.  While there, he became a Mississippi Civil Liberties Union board member and helped elect Mississippi's first African-American Congressman since Reconstruction.  Howard also organized the Mississippi Public Defenders Association and was elected its president in 1987.

In 1988, Howard returned to Minnesota and became an associate at Thomson & Ellis in St. Paul.  The following year, Howard left Thomson & Ellis to be an associate at Meshbesher, Singer & Spence in Minneapolis.  Other than Hennepin County District Court Judge Jack Nordby, Howard is the only Twin Cities lawyer to have practiced with Doug Thomson and Ron Meshbesher, both legendary Minnesota criminal defense attorneys.

Howard became a partner at Meshbesher & Spence in 1994 and practiced there until 2004, when he left to form the Bass Law Firm (originally known as Bass & Peck).  During those ten years, he was a Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers board member and served as that organization's president in 2002.

In 2005, Howard was elected to the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota board of directors.  He was also elected  Senate District 35 DFL Chair and mnpACT! Treasurer.

Over the years, Howard has coached youth football, basketball and soccer in Lakeville.  He has also taught Sunday school and led the youth group and outreach ministry at Open Circle Church in Burnsville.  He also coached the Lakeville South High School mock trial team for four years, taking them to two state tournaments.

Howard is routinely recognized by Minnesota Law & Politics as a "Super Lawyer" and is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America .  Minnesota Law & Politics has recognized Howard Bass as a "Top 40 Criminal Defense Super Lawyer," and Minnesota Monthly has recognized Howard as one of the "Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Minnesota."


  • DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois
    • J.D. - 1984
    • Honors: magna cum laude
  • Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota
    • B.A. - 1981
    • Honors: magna cum laude
    • Honors: President, Mankato State University Student Association, 1980-1981

Practice Areas

  • Criminal Law 100%

Bar Admissions

  • Mississippi, 1984
  • Minnesota, 1988
  • U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, 1988


  • Minnesota Law & Politics "Super Lawyer", 2001 - Present
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2004 - Present
  • Minnesota Monthly "Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Minnesota", 2006 - Present
  • Minnesota Law & Politics "Top 40 Criminal Defense Super Lawyers", 2006
  • Minnesota State Bar Association Outstanding Professionalism Award, 2007
  • American Jurisprudence Award Constitutional Law, 1982

Representative Cases

  • United States v. Jeffrey A. Siewert, 2008 WL 4635258, 2008, United States District Court Minnesota
  • State of Minnesota v. Daniel Alan Kuhlman, 729 N.W.2d 577, 2007, Minnesota Supreme Court
  • State of Minnesota v. Daniel Alan Kuhlman, 722 N.W.2d 1, 2006, Minnesota Court of Appeals

Published Works

  • "Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove: Ammunition for a National Handgun Ban", 32 De Paul L. Rev. 317, 1983

Professional Associations

  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member, 1989
  • Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, President, 2002 to 2003
  • Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Board Member, 1994 to 2004
  • Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member, 1989
  • Mississippi Public Defenders Association, President, 1986 to 1987
  • Mississippi Public Defenders Association, Board Member, 1985 to 1987
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, Board Member, 2005
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, Volunteer Attorney, 2005
  • Mississippi Civil Liberties Union, Board Member, 1985 to 1987

Past Positions

  • Washington County, Greenville, Mississippi, Assistant Public Defender, 1984 to 1988
  • Thomson & Ellis, St. Paul, Minnesota, Associate, 1988 to 1989
  • Meshbesher & Spence, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Associate, 1989 to 1994
  • Meshbesher & Spence, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Partner, 1994 to 2004

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Lakeville South High School Mock Trial Coach, 2004 to 2008
  • Lakeville Youth Football, Basketball & Soccer Coach, 1997 to 2004
  • Open Circle Church Outreach Ministry Team Leader, 2004 to 2007
  • Open Circle Church Youth Group Leader, 2002 to 2006
  • Open Circle Church Sunday School Teacher, 1995 to 2000
  • mnpACT! (Minnesota Network for Progressive Action) Board Member, 2004
  • mnpACT! (Minnesota Network for Progressive Action) Treasurer, 2006
  • Minnesota Voter Protection Project Dakota & Scott County Counsel, 2004 to 2006
  • Camp Wellstone Graduate, 2005
  • Senate District 35 DFL Chair, 2005 to 2008
  • Senate District 35 DFL Treasurer, 2004 to 2005
  • Scott County DFL Secretary, 2004 to 2005
  • Credit River Township DFL Precinct Chair, 2004 to 2005
  • Minnesotans Against the Death Penalty Steering Committee Member, 2004 to 2006

Current Employment Position

  • Attorney