Robert Vogel was born December 6, 1918, in Coleharbor, North Dakota. He was the son of Frank A. and Louella (Larsen) Vogel. After graduating from Bismarck High School in 1935, he attended the University of North Dakota. He graduated from UND in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce. While at UND, Vogel was a member of Phi Delta Theta, a Greek social fraternity, Delta Sigma Rho, an honorary forensics fraternity, and Hesperia, a literary society.
Vogel graduated from Minneapolis-Minnesota College of Law (now William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota) in 1942. That same year, he married Elsa Mork on May 29, 1942. The couple had four children: Mary Lou, Sarah May, Frank, and Robert, Jr.
Vogel was admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1942 and the North Dakota Bar in 1943. He practiced law in Garrison, North Dakota, from 1943 to 1954, and served as McLean County States Attorney from 1948 to 1954. He became United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota in 1954 and held that position until 1961. In 1961, he became a partner in the Mandan, North Dakota, firm of Vogel, Bair, and Brown. In 1962, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic/Nonpartisan League.
Vogel was appointed to the North Dakota Supreme Court by Governor Arthur Link in 1973, and won a ten year term to the Court in the general election of 1974. Vogel resigned from the Supreme Court in August 1978 to become a Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota School of Law. He also opened the Vogel Law Firm in Grand Forks.
Vogel represented the plaintiffs in a case versus the Grand Forks School Board in 1979. The suit was brought following the mandatory posting of the Ten Commandments in all Grand Forks Public School classrooms. The case was heard before United States District Court Judge Paul Benson, who ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in January 1980. Another of Vogel’s important cases was Lohman v. General American Life Insurance, et al. Vogel represented William Lohman in this 1981 case involving a double indemnity clause in a life insurance policy.
Vogel was active in a number of professional organizations and committees, including the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Bar Foundation. He acted as chair of several committees of the State Bar Association of North Dakota, including committees on Pattern Jury Instructions, Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Judicial Salaries. He served on the North Dakota State Parole Board from 1967 to 1973, and chaired it for two years. In 1981, Vogel edited the 2nd edition of The North Dakota Prosecutor’s Deskbook. Published by the North Dakota Combined Law Enforcement Council, the book was designed to be a guide and reference manual for prosecutors.
Vogel retired in 1997. In 2004, he published Unequal Contest: Bill Langer and His Political Enemies, a book on Langer's conspiracy trials. Robert Vogel died on January 28, 2005, in Rochester, Minnesota.
The Robert Vogel Papers date from 1968 to 2001 and have been divided into three series as follows:
Series 1: North Dakota Supreme Court Cases and Opinions
Series 2: Professional Activities
Series 3: Legal Practice
Twenty photographs were separated and placed in the Photograph File Cabinets.