Latimer (right) with Calley
Lieutenant Calley asked Latimer in mid-1969 to defend him against
growing out of his role in the massacre at My Lai. Calley
his life savings of $6000 to retain the elderly lawyer. Although
prior to defending Calley, Latimer had enjoyed a distinguished career,
it was an unwise choice by Calley. Although Latimer seems to have
felt a personal connection to his most famous client stating, “Why, he
could have been my son ... you couldn’t ask for a nicer boy,” most
felt Latimer "was past his prime and was a dubious choice for an
case.” Latimer was 70, poor of hearing, and asked questions
that were rambling and hard to follow. His defense rested on an
mixture of following orders of a superior, outright denial of specific
acts, a portrayal of Calley as the victim of a war gone bad, diminished
capacity brought on by marijuana use, and blame shifting to
those lower in the chain of command (especially Paul
The defense was ineffective, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty.
Prior to defending Calley, Latimer had served as Utah Supreme Court
judge, a former Military Court of Appeals judge, a member of the Utah
Board of Pardons, and a practicing attorney in Salt Lake City.
first approached by Calley, Latimer was involved in defending one of
eight green berets in connection with another murder charge.
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