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Judges see both tragedy, humor
Mar 23, 2013 | 2140 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RETIRED JUDGE FLOYD GOWANS shares several cases with Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club members.  
Photo by Melinda Williams | Davis Clipper
RETIRED JUDGE FLOYD GOWANS shares several cases with Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club members. Photo by Melinda Williams | Davis Clipper


Clipper Staff Writer


WEST BOUNTIFUL — A judge’s career can seem as if it’s filled with one tragedy after another.

And, of course it is. Sometimes though there are cases that are humorous or touching.

Retired 3rd Circuit Judge and former Salt Lake City prosecutor Floyd Gowans showed Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club members both the serious and lighter sides of being a judge last week.

Many years ago, “there was this fellow in court, on a ticket for speeding,” Gowans said. “He was an odd duck who had been in court before,” 

This time, the man demanded a jury trial and the Utah Highway Patrol trooper who had issued the ticket was called to testify, Gowans said.

As a defendant, the man had the right to cross-examine the trooper.

“He was insulting, obnoxious and called the trooper a liar,” Gowans said. “I looked at the jury and told them the defendant had conducted his cross examination in such a way, ‘you can’t make a good, clean call,’ so I declared a mistrial and told the man that if he didn’t settle down, I’d hold him in contempt,” Gowans said.

The man didn’t settle down, and Gowans gave him 24 hours in jail.

However, after a little time had passed, “I called the jail and told them to bring the guy up after lunch,” Gowans said.

Gowans went to lunch himself. When he returned, there was the man waiting outside of Gowans’ office, across from the clerk’s office.

“The defendant sees me coming and starts hollering and shouting,” Gowans said.

Because the man was in jail only a matter of a few hours, he was allowed to wear his regular clothes, except his belt, Gowans said. 

As the man was shouting and hollering, he raised his arms in the air. As he did, his pants fell to his ankles, Gowans said.

The man and the attorney went into Gowans’ study to discuss the ticket and the man’s lawyer talked him into paying it. The man and his lawyer then left.

Gowans found his clerk laughing and she told him, “Every time his pants fell, he’d moon me.”

Gowans also told of a particularly sad case that happened about 20 years ago.

A retired couple would periodically have their family over for dinner in their home. At one of these dinners, the oldest son made a comment and the father took offense at it, Gowans said. They argued.

The father became so angry he ordered the son out of his house, Gowans said. The son brushed the remark off and didn’t get up off the couch.

At that point, the father went into the bedroom and got a revolver.

 “I told you to get out of my house,” Gowans quoted the man as saying.

“By this time the son is very startled and started out the door,” Gowans said.

The other children also excused themselves and left.

The father, still in a rage, went out onto the front porch. He saw the dome lights on inside of one of the cars parked in front of the house, and someone was getting out of the car. The man assumed it was his oldest son and began yelling, Gowans said.

The gun then discharged, and a person dropped to the ground.

By now the father was coming to his senses, Gowans said, and realized he had shot his youngest son, not his oldest.

The man’s attorney said the gun had discharged without the trigger being pulled, Gowans said.

The man was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to five to 10 years in the Utah State prison.



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