Article, 1021 UTBJ, Vol. 34, No. 5. 20

AuthorHonorable Sheila K. McCleve
PositionVol. 34 5 Pg. 20


Vol. 34 No. 5 Pg. 20

Utah Bar Journal

October, 2021

September, 2021

Richard C. Howe - A Law Clerk's Tribute

Honorable Sheila K. McCleve

The Honorable Richard C. Howe was an extraordinary ordinary man. I was privileged to serve as one of his first clerks at the Utah Supreme Court, and there learned of his extraordinary character and accomplishments as well as his identification with and empathy for ordinary people.

His ancestors were pioneers and early settlers of the Salt Lake valley. Justice Howe never forgot his ancestral heritage nor lost his love for the land they had settled. He was born, grew up and, with his engagingly charming wife, Juanita, raised his family on that land in the Murray/Cottonwood area.

For decades Justice Howe grew his garden on that land. Every season he delighted in sharing his harvest, particularly his prized Golden Jubilee corn, with other fresh-corn lovers at the supreme court. Although he sold the land just a few years ago, a street there now bears his name.

Justice Howe would say that at heart he was a farmer. And with a gleam in his eye and a little corner of a turned up smile, he would remind me, a Granite High School graduate, that he had also been a "Granite High Farmer" and was a proud graduate.

During the time I clerked for him, Granite High School acknowledged his many achievements by giving him an Honored Alumni Award. At the school assembly ceremony (that he had invited me to attend), he graciously and proudly accepted the award, which I believe he sincerely cherished as much as any of the other, more notable ones he received.

Although I was his clerk, a relatively new lawyer, and he was a Supreme Court Justice with many preceding legal contributions, still, Justice Howe always treated me as an equal in the law. He reverenced the worth of individuals as a strongly held value. He once told me that he had seen role reversals in life, and he thought it best to look for the merits of each person rather than to worry about relative positions held. In fact, he said that it wouldn't surprise him if one day he worked for me, life being what it is. His view revealed his awareness of the significance of each individual.

Of course, we never reversed roles but when, as a district court judge, I sat pro tem on the supreme court alongside him, he was genuinely pleased. (It was a highlight of my career.) He was always happy for all of...

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