Robert French Utter
Born: June 19, 1930, Seattle, Washington
Died: October 15, 2014, Olympia, Washington
Education: Linfield College, 1948-50; University of Washington, B.S., 1951; University of Washington School of Law, LL.B., 1954; National Judicial College, 1965
Professional career: Clerk for Washington Supreme Court Judge Matthew W. Hill, 1954-55; Deputy Prosecutor, King County, Washington, 1955-56; private practice, Short & Cressman, Seattle, 1956-59; Juvenile Commissioner, King County Superior Court, 1959-64; Judge, King County Superior Court, 1964-69; Member, Washington State Court of Appeals, 1969-71; Member, Supreme Court of Washington, Dec. 20, 1971, to April 24, 1995; Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Washington, 1979-81; professor, University of Puget Sound School of Law, 1990s; private practice, mediation, arbitration and consulting, 1995-.
Married: Elizabeth Stevenson, Dec. 28, 1953; three children
Notably: Resigned from the Washington Supreme Court, 1995, to protest the death penalty; author of The Washington State Constitution, A reference Guide, with Hugh D. Spitzer, (Greenwood Press, 2002, ISBN 0-313-27464-9); winner of the Central European & Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI) Volunteers Award from the American Bar Association, 2003; dean of faculty and senior instructor for CEELI, including seminars in Prague for Iraqi judges in 2004 and 2005.
Other activities: Co-founder and past president of Big Brother programs in King County (1958) and Thurston-Mason counties (1982); president of the YMCA Youth & Government Board for 13 years; co-founder and president of Job Therapy Inc. (1964); former deacon, Seattle First Baptist Church; named Seattle's "Most Outstanding Young Man" in 1964; Board Chairman, American Judicature Society, 1991; Chairman, King County, Washington, Mental Health Task Force, 1997; chairman, Washington News Council, 1998-2004; member, Board of Trustees, Rural Development Institute.
Awards: In recognition of his 15 trips to Albania, the Albanian government awarded Utter its Medal for Special Civil Merits in 2006. The University of Washington School of Law presented him its Jackson Distinguished Alumni Public Service Award. The Washington State Bar Association and Seattle-King County Bars have named him their Outstanding Judge and Distinguished Judge. The American Judicature Society presented him its Herbert Harley and Justice Award, and the National Center for State Courts awarded him the Warren Burger Award. The Conference of Chief Justices gave Utter its Exceptional Service Award.
Hobbies: Sailboat racing; captained three races from U.S. to Hawaii; private pilot, single, multi-engine and instrument ratings; qualified operator on D7 Caterpillar tractor.