Ernest Knaebel was an attorney who became an assistant U.S. attorney for Colorado and later a U.S. Supreme Court reporter of decisions.
Born June 14, 1872, in Manhasset, New York, and raised in New York, Knaebel received his college and Legal Education at Yale. He received his bachelor of arts degree in 1894, his bachelor of laws degree summa cum laude in 1896, and his master of laws degree magna cum laude in 1897. After graduating from law school, he was admitted to the New York, New Mexico, and Colorado bars. He practiced law in New York City from 1897 to 1898.
In 1898, Knaebel moved to Colorado and entered private practice with his father in Denver. From 1902 to 1907, he served as assistant U.S. attorney for Colorado. He returned to the East in 1907 to become a special assistant to the attorney general in Washington, D.C., and was named assistant attorney general in 1911. During his tenure with the Justice Department, Knaebel was heavily involved in land-fraud prosecutions, arguing many of the early cases concerning public and Indian land disputes that came before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also organized the Public Lands Division of the Justice Department and directed that division from 1909 to 1916.
In 1916, Knaebel was appointed the reporter of decisions for the U.S. Supreme Court. In this capacity, he and his staff were responsible for the slow, painstaking task of editing the Court's decisions and preparing them for publication. The reporter checks all citations in the opinions, corrects typographical and other errors, adds the headnotes summarizing the major points of law, and lists the voting lineup of the justices and the names of counsel. Under Knaebel's tenure, the office of reporter was reorganized by statute and the printing and sale of U.S. Reports, the official publication of Supreme Court orders and decisions, was turned over to the U.S. Government Printing Office and the superintendent of documents. Knaebel edited volumes 242 to 321 of U.S. Reports.
Knaebel was a member of the American Bar Association, Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Alpha Delta. He served on the Board of Governors of the Lawyers' Club and was a member of the Cosmos Club and the Yale Club.
Knaebel served as reporter of decisions from 1916 until January 31, 1944, when he retired because of ill health. He died on February 19, 1947, in West Boxford, Massachusetts.