George W. Latimer, former Utah Supreme Court justice and partner in one of Utah's largest law firms, died Wednesday, May 2, 1990 at a nursing home in Salt Lake City. He was 89.
Mr. Latimer's law career spanned six decades, beginning with his 1924 graduation from the University of Utah School of Law to his retirement from the Salt Lake City firm of Parsons, Behle and Latimer. Although he formally retired from the firm in 1973, after serving as its president, he remained "of counsel" until 1985.In 1925, the same year Mr. Latimer began to practice law, he joined the Utah National Guard as a second lieutenant. He interrupted his practice in 1941, when the guard was federalized and in 1943, became chief-of-staff of the guard's 40th division and was promoted to colonel. From 1942 to 1945, he was on combat duty in the Pacific Theatre, earning five battle stars, the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.
When the war ended, he returned to Salt Lake City and his practice. In 1946, he was elected to the Utah Supreme Court, where he served for five years until he was appointed by then-President Harry Truman to a 10-year term as an associate judge on the United States Court of Military Appeals in Washington, D.C.
As one of three original members of the court, Mr. Latimer was instrumental in interpreting the Uniform Code of Military Justice adopted after World War II. His familiarity with military law and courts was one reason William Laws Calley Jr. hired Mr. Latimer to represent him when Calley was court-martialed for the 1968 murders of more than 22 civilians at My Lai.
In 1965, he was appointed to the State Board of Pardons, eventually serving as its chairman. During his 14-year tenure on the board, Mr. Latimer presided over the commutation hearings of Gary Gilmore, who was subsequently execute.
Mr. Latimer was born November 28, 1900, in Draper's so-called "Poverty Flats," to John and Petria Jensen Latimer. On October 5, 1929, he married Rhoda Carroll. They had two sons.
During his career, Mr. Latimer earned many honors, including the Order of the Coif in 1966; Utah State Bar Lawyer of the Year in 1977; and Military Citizen of the Year in 1982. One of his most cherished honors was his promotion to the rank of Brigidier General (ret.) for his service to the Utah National Guard.
Mr. Latimer is survived by his widow, Salt Lake City; sons George W., Bryan, Texas; and Ronald G. Latimer, Santa Barbara, Calif.; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral service 12 noon Tueday, May 8th, at Evans & Early Mortuary, 574 East First South, where friends may call one hour prior to service. Military graveside service at the Salt Lake City Cemetery will follow. In lieu of flowers, family suggests contributions may be made to the George W. Latimer Law Scholarship Fund, c/o Development Office, U. of U., 304 Park Bldg., Salt Lake City, Utah 84102. Funeral directors, Evans & Early
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