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Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Howe dies at 97

Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard C. Howe died on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard C. Howe died on Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Busath Photography via Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Former legislator and Utah Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Howe has died, the Utah Administrative Office of the Courts announced on Wednesday.

Howe served on the Utah Supreme Court for 22 years — including four years as chief justice — before retiring in 2002. Howe also served as speaker of the Utah House of Representatives from 1971-72.

Howe died on Saturday, June 19. He was 97 years old.

In 1945, Howe graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in speech. He continued on to law school at the University of Utah, graduating in 1948, according to the Deseret News. During his tenure as a law student, Howe clerked for former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice James H. Wolfe.

In law school, Howe was also classmates with James E. Faust, former second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who spoke of him in glowing terms. In 2003, he described Howe to the Deseret News as a "perfect gentleman" and noted, "It is rare that so many judicial qualities can be found in one person."

After graduation, Howe worked as a judge in Murray before being elected to the Utah House from 1951 to 1972. He joined the Utah Senate from 1972 to 1978.

In 1980, former Gov. Scott M. Matheson, a fellow Democrat, appointed Howe to the Utah Supreme Court.

Howe served as a member of the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission for a decade, then as an associate chief judge from 1988 to 1993, before finishing his tenure on the Utah Supreme Court as chief justice from 1998 to April 2002, the Deseret News reported.

Howe retired Dec. 31, 2002, at which time he was the only person to have served in the Utah House of Representatives, Senate, and on the Utah Supreme Court.

Then-Gov. Mike Leavitt described Howe as "a great leader and one who will long be remembered."

In the press release that announced his passing, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant said, "Chief Justice Howe was a model jurist. He was fair, thoughtful, and treated everyone with dignity and respect. His passing is a great loss not only for our judicial family, but for the citizens of Utah."

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