Served on the Iowa Supreme Court from 1987 until his retirement in 2001.
A native of Ida Grove, Iowa, he received his bachelor's degree from Grinnell College in 1951. After college, he served in the United States Army. In 1956, Justice Snell graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law. Justice Snell served as law clerk to Judge Henry N. Graven, United States District Judge for Northern Iowa. Later, he practiced law in New York City. He returned to Iowa and served as assistant Iowa Attorney General, practiced law in Ida Grove and was appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1976 where he served until his appointment to the Supreme Court.