'Decent Dave' Winder dies at 76
By Linda Thomson
Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 6:32 p.m. MDT
U.S. District Judge David Kent Winder, 76, died Tuesday following a long illness.
President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Winder, a former prosecutor, attorney in private practice and a 3rd District state-court judge, to the federal bench in 1979. Judge Winder's polite and even-handed courtroom demeanor earned him many awards throughout his career and, early on, produced the nickname "Decent Dave."
"The American Lawyer" magazine in 1983 termed him the best district judge in the 10th Circuit and lauded him for being well-informed and well-prepared for the cases before him, praising his "compulsion to master the details of every matter before oral argument."
Judge Winder was known for his punctuality and a work ethic that included 12-hour days and reading legal documents on Saturdays to be fully aware of the contents of each one before court hearings took place.
U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said Tuesday that Judge Winder was "universally respected and admired" by those who work in U.S. Attorney's Office.
"We knew he would come to the bench each day having thoroughly studied the issues to be argued. He had a perfect judicial temperament," Tolman said. "He never demanded respect; he earned it. He treated everyone who appeared before him with fairness and dignity. His contributions to the federal bench and his example as a judge will long be remembered."
Judge Winder was born in Salt Lake City in 1932, graduated from Granite High School, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-52, got an English degree from the University of Utah in 1955 and received his law degree from Stanford University in 1958.
Nate Alder, president of the Utah State Bar, recalls being a fresh-from-college law clerk in 1995 with a tiny office just down the hall from Judge Winder.
"Every lawyer in town appreciated him," Alder said. "He was the epitome of what a judge should be: prepared, professional, civil, personable, fair. He just brought a level of sophistication to the bench that everyone appreciated, and he was the standard-bearer for years. I think a lot of people decided to become judges because he was such a great judge."
Alder also said Judge Winder inspired attorneys to do their best legal work, because it would be unseemly to appear before such a hard-working judge unprepared.
"He was universally loved and respected by lawyers," Alder said. "When he ruled against you, you knew exactly why, and you felt he was fair."
During his career, Judge Winder worked as an assistant U.S. attorney, became chief deputy district attorney and was a partner in the Salt Lake City law firm Strong & Hanni.
Former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson in 1977 appointed Judge Winder to a judgeship in the state district court. The Utah State Bar bestowed the accolade of "Judge of the Year" on him one year after the appointment.
Judge Winder's son, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, recalls his father as a "wonderful" and "very generous" parent who was deeply involved in his family's regular activities and also created great memories through family travel.
"For many years, he took us on annual jaunts all around. There was one memorable experience in Africa in the 1970s," Sheriff Winder said. "In his younger years, he was quite an explorer himself. He had toured Europe, and he climbed the Matterhorn. That was one of his adventures. He was a man of many facets."
Sheriff Winder also noted that his father had many friends, especially in the legal and law enforcement communities, who stayed in contact and visited frequently, even after Judge Winder's health began to decline about three years ago.
"We have seen the best in people," Sheriff Winder said.
A public viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, at the U.S. District Courthouse, 350 S. Main Street, in Salt Lake City.
The interment will be a private, family-only affair, but Sheriff Winder said plans are under way for a public memorial service to be held in the future.
Judge Winder was preceded in death by his wife, Pamela Martin Winder. Besides Sheriff Winder and his wife, Shawn, Judge Winder also is survived by his other children and their spouses, Ann and Larry Bugni, and Kay and James Mitchell.
Respected Utah federal judge David Winder dies
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 05/19/2009 04:12:10 PM MDT
U.S. District Judge David Winder, once nicknamed "Decent Dave" for his courtesy to those appearing in his courtroom, died today at the age of 76 after a long illness.
Memorial services are still being planned.
Winder first became a judge in 1977, when then-Gov. Scott Matheson named him to the state's 3rd District Court. The next year, he was voted Judge of the Year by the Utah State Bar.
He was appointed to the federal bench in Utah in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. At his investiture ceremony, he quoted Sir Thomas More in "A Man for all Seasons," describing the law as "causeway upon which, so long as he keeps it lit, a citizen may walk safely."
He added: "I hope that during the many years that I plan to spend on the bench, that I will not encumber that causeway, and will, in some small way, help to keep it safe for the passage of our citizens," according to a statement from Utah's federal court.
In 1983, according to the court's statement, The American Lawyer magazine named Winder the best district judge in the Tenth Circuit, praising his efficiency and attention to detail. The magazine described him as "the best of a new breed of younger, more professional judges."
Winder's zeal for preparation and punctuality was legendary, the courts' statement said, noting his common work hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Winder was born in Salt Lake City in 1932. After graduation from Granite High School, he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1952. He earned an English degree at the University of Utah in 1955 and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1958.
He worked as an assistant U. S. Attorney and at Salt Lake City law firm Strong & Hanni before he was named to the state bench.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Pamela Martin Winder, and is survived by his three children and their spouses: Ann and Larry Bugni, Kay and James Mitchell, and Salt Lake County Sheriff James Winder and his wife, Shawn.