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George Webster Latimer – (November 28, 1900 – May 3, 1990) was a Utah lawyer most known for representing Lt. William Calley Jr. in his court martial from the My Lai incident.[1] He was also a Justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1946-1951 and one of the three original members of the U.S. Court of Military Appeals from 1951 to 1961.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Latimer was born in Draper, Utah to John and Petria Jensen Latimer[3] and attended Salt Lake Public Schools.[4] He graduated from the University of Utah College of Law in 1924 where he was a member of Delta Theta Phi law fraternity.[5] As an undergraduate at the University of Utah he was a member of Sigma Pi fraternity.[6]

He practiced law in Salt Lake City from 1924 to 1940.[7] He joined the Utah National Guard in 1925.[3]

On October 5, 1929 he married Rhoda Caroll.[3] They had two sons, George Jr. and Ronald G.[1]

World War IIEdit

During World War II he spent three years in the Pacific Theater with the Fortieth Infantry Division. He eventually rose the rank of colonel and was the division’s chief of staff.[1] He participated in four landings and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.[3] He continued his work with the National Guard after the war and eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General.[4]

Legal careerEdit

As a judgeEdit

In 1946 Latimer was elected to the Utah Supreme Court and was sworn in for a ten-year term.[6] Before the end of his term he resigned to accept an appointed by President Harry S. Truman to the newly formed U.S. Court of Military Appeals in 1951.[4] He was instrumental in interpreting the Uniform Code of Military Justice after it was adopted at the end of World War II.[1] He noted in a 1956 address to the military’s Judge Advocate Generals that civilian courts were beginning to call on the Court of Military Appeals for judicial opinions relating to military judicial subjects. He said that this was a good sign that the Uniform Code of Military Justice had established an acceptable court system.[8]

Law firmEdit

He became a partner in the Salt Lake City firm of Parsons, Behle, and Latimer in 1961.[7] He would later serve as its president until retiring in 1973 but remained as a counsel to the firm until 1985.[3]

Board of pardonsEdit

In 1965 he was appointed to the Utah State Board of Pardons. He served on the board until 1979. During that time he presided over the commutation hearings of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore.[1] He never voted to commute a death sentence as he thought he shouldn’t change the ruling of a judge and jury.[4]

Calley caseEdit

In 1969 he was hired to represent Calley at his court-martial.[9] He was sought out because of his experience in both military and civilian courts. He worked on the case until 1974 with appeals in the military and civilian courts. A United States District judge eventually found violations in Calley’s military trial that violated his constitutional rights.[1]

In 1977 he won the Utah State Bar’s Lawyer of the Year Award.[10] He was a member of the Kiwanis and a director for the Salvation Army.[6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "George W. Latimer IS Dead at 89; Lawyer In My Lai Massacre Trial". The New York Times. 5 May 1990. https://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/05/obituaries/george-w-latimer-is-dead-at-89-lawyer-in-my-lai-massacre-trial.html. 
  2. "Judges". http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/newcaaf/judges.htm. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "DEATH: GEORGE WEBSTER LATIMER". 5 May 1990. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/101089/DEATH--GEORGE-WEBSTER-LATIMER.html?pg=all. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "GEORGE W. LATIMER, CO-FOUNDER OF LAW FIRM AND FORMER JUSTICE, DIES". 4 May 1990. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/100667/GEORGE-W-LATIMER-CO-FOUNDER-OF-LAW-FIRM-AND-FORMER-JUSTICE-DIES.html?pg=all. 
  5. Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Delta Theta Phi Politicians in Utah". http://politicalgraveyard.com/geo/UT/delta-theta-phi.html. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Latimer To Serve Calley As Counsel". Spring 1970. pp. 14–15. http://www.enivation.com/SigmaPi/archive/Emerald/1970/SP_EMERALD_VOL_57_NO_1_SPRING_1970.pdf. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Archives West: George W. Latimer papers, 1926-2007". http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv65194. 
  8. "The Annual Meeting". October 1956. p. 2. http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/JAG_Journal-No-23.pdf. 
  9. Hersh, Seymour. "‘I sent them a good boy and they made him a murderer.’ The My Lai story, as readers experienced it when it was first published in 1969.". Columbia University; The Pulitzer Prizes. http://www.pulitzer.org/article/i-sent-them-good-boy-and-they-made-him-murderer. 
  10. "Lawyer of the Year Award - Utah State Bar". https://www.utahbar.org/bar-operations/lawyer-of-the-year-award/. 

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