Associate Justice, December 27, 1982 - February 16, 1988
Edward Thomas Butler was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 27, 1918. He graduated from South High School of Grand Rapids in 1936. He was a schoolmate of President Gerald Ford, although the latter was several years his senior. He worked his way through college, doing odd jobs in a drugstore and furniture factory and serving in the Merchant Marine. In 1941, he obtained his bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He then joined the United States Marine Corps as a Lieutenant. During World War II, he served in the Pacific Theater with the 1st Marines, receiving the Bronze Star for service at Guadalcanal and honorably discharged five years later as a Major. In 1948, he received his law degree from Harvard University Law School. He was admitted to the California Bar on January 4, 1949. For the next decade, he was an associate and then partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Lawler, Felix & Hall. However, the Korean War interrupted his law practice, as he returned to the Marines for two years serving as legal officer for the 1st Marine Air Wing in Korea and at El Toro. He became a Lieutenant Colonel at the age of 31. In 1959, he moved to San Diego where he was general counsel and senior vice president of Electro Instruments, Inc. until 1963. In January 1964, he was appointed City Attorney of San Diego -- a position he was elected to in 1965 and held until his resignation in February 1969. From 1969 to 1975, he was a partner in the San Diego law firm of Schall, Butler, Boudreau & Gore. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of San Diego in 1971, losing in the general election to Pete Wilson who later became Governor. His significant public service to the City of San Diego is reflected by his service on its Economic Development Commission, Charter Review Commission and Economic Opportunity Commission. He also served on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Obscenity from 1965 to 1966 and the Governor's Commission on the Law of Preemption from 1966 to 1967. A former President of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, he was chosen "man of the year" in 1976. After his appointment by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., he served on the San Diego County Superior Court from September 23, 1975. The Governor elevated him to Division One of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District on December 3, 1982. The oath of office was administered on December 27, 1982. The San Diego Trial Lawyers Association named him "Trial Judge of the Year" in 1980. He retired from the Court of Appeal on February 16, 1988. For the next decade, he engaged in private dispute resolution. In 2000, the San Diego City Council proclaimed February 27 "Ed Butler Day" in San Diego. He died Christmas Eve, 2003.