Franz Guertner was born in Regensburg and studied law at the University of Munich. He fought for Germany in World War I and he received the Iron Cross for his bravery. He continued his law career after the war.
In 1922, Guertner was made Bavarian Minister of Justice. His career success continued and, in 1932, he was appointed Reich Minister of Justice for the Nazi regime. Before the Nazi rise to power, Guertner made his support for the party clear. He aided the Nazis in the courtroom, ensuring an easy sentence for the defendants in the Beer-Hall Putsch trial. Guertner actually allowed Hitler to have reign of the courtroom, where he gained an increasing amount of popularity. After Hitler's sentencing, Guertner had his sentence lessened.
After Guertner's appointment as Reich Minister of Justice, he created a constitution for the Nazi government. Guertner did not support the violent behavior of Hitler's Secret Police, and he tried to keep the courthouse unbiased so that SA members could be convicted of crimes. At the same time, however, Guertner had already transformed the judicial system into a Nazi-ruled branch of the government. Hitler was able to pardon all convicted members of his SA.
By the beginning of World War II, the entire Ministry of Justice had lost its power. Guertner realized this, but remained Reich Minister of Justice in hopes of having some control over the Nazis. Of course, Guertner was unable the weaken the Nazi Party and, while remaining in office, Guertner actually helped the Nazis to implement the Final Solution by removing any obstacles that remained in the way of their plan.
Guertner died in January 1941.
Sources: Wistrich, Robert S. Who's Who in Nazi Germany. NY: Routledge Press, 1995.