Obituary Details

Judge James E. Barrett

(04/08/1922 - 11/07/2011)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 11/09/2011

Judge James E. Barrett

Judge James E. Barrett, 89, of Cheyenne, died Nov. 7, 2011 at Davis Hospice Center.

He was born April 8, 1922, in Lusk, Wyoming, to four-term Congressman, Governor and United States Senator, Frank A. Barrett and Alice C. Barrett. He graduated from Lusk High School in 1940. He wrote for both The Lusk Herald and The Denver Post during his teenage years.

Barrett served in the U.S. Army during World War II with overseas duty in the European Theatre. He landed at Omaha Beach during the allied invasion in June of 1944, and was attached to Gen. George Patton's Third Army and Gen. Omar Bradley's First Army. He attended St. Catherine's College in Oxford, England, Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and the University of Wyoming where he earned his law degree in 1949. While at Wyoming, he was a member of the SAE fraternity, Potter Law Club, and the Law Review.

He married the former Carmel Ann Martinez in Rawlins on October 8, 1949. They made their home in Lusk for 18 years where he practiced law under the firm name of Barrett & Barrett. He served ten years as Niobrara County & Prosecuting Attorney, Town Attorney for Lusk and Manville, and Niobrara School District Attorney. He was a trustee of St. Leo's Catholic Church, Commander of American Legion Post No. 4, and president of the Lions Club and the Lusk Chamber of Commerce. He was always proud to call Lusk his home.

In 1967 he accepted Governor Stanley K. Hathaway's appointment to serve as Wyoming Attorney General. He and Hathaway were longtime friends. On Dec. 4, 1969, while en route from Cheyenne to Riverton in a State-owned airplane, Barrett, with no piloting experience was suddenly thrust into that position when the pilot suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. Without radio instruction or guidance, and after many harrowing experiences, Barrett crash-landed the plane in an open field near Rawlins. The plane was wrecked but Barrett, though suffering severe facial and back injuries, managed to walk away.

In 1971 he was appointed by President Richard Nixon and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, headquartered in Denver. He was the third judge from Wyoming to serve on the United States Court of Appeals. The Tenth Circuit includes the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. He maintained his residence chambers in Cheyenne and served on the court until his death. In 1990, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals honored him as a Senior Judge in a portrait presentation ceremony in Cheyenne. Chief Judge William Holloway remarked at the time that Barrett was a driving force for the court, a skilled and devoted jurist, and a friend to all. Judge Barrett participated in the disposition of 9,000 cases and wrote more than 3,000 opinions while on the bench. His Tenth Circuit colleague, Judge Wade Brorby, publicly described Barrett as the most productive judge on the court and "the finest human being I have known."

In addition to his regular court duties, Barrett was appointed by U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1979 to serve as one of three original judges on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The court met in a special steel vault in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and sat on cases involving foreign espionage. He served there for six years.

Barrett was inducted as Distinguished Alumni of the University of Wyoming in 1973, and in 1994 he was inducted as an honorary member of the University of Wyoming College of Law's Chapter of the Order of the Coif. He received the Thomas G. Gorman-Excellence in Professionalism Award from the Ewing T. Kerr Inn of the Court in 2005, the Wyoming Bar Association Leadership Award from the First Judicial District in 2008, and the Larry L. Lehman Award for Judicial Excellence from the Wyoming Supreme Court in 2009. The American Business Women's Association presented him with the first Boss of the Year Award in 1977.

He was a member of St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne and served for seventeen years as a Trustee of St. Joseph's Children's Home in Torrington. He was an active member of Cowboy Joe, the Cheyenne Quarterback Club, the Laramie County Bar Association, and the Ewing T. Kerr Inn of the Court. He closely followed the football and basketball fortunes of the University of Wyoming and the University of Notre Dame.

Aided by a powerful and fluid swing, Judge Barrett was an exceptional amateur golfer and tournament winner during his youth and early adulthood. His game was honed on the open prairie fairways, smooth sand greens and meandering creeks of the beautiful Niobrara County Country Club in Lusk.

He is survived by his daughter, Ann Sandahl and her husband, John, of Carlsbad, California; son Richard Barrett and his wife, Rosemary, of Cheyenne; son, John Barrett of Cheyenne; sister, Marialyce Tobin of Casper; sister-in-law, Jacqueline Ferrall of Cheyenne; granddaughters Elizabeth Sandahl, Caitilin Barrett and Kelly Barrett; grandson, Thomas Sandahl and his wife, Kirsten; and two great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carmel Ann Barrett; his parents, Frank A. Barrett and Alice C. Barrett; his brother, Dr. Francis Barrett; his sister-in-law, Harriet Barrett; and his brother-in-law, Richard Tobin, former president of the Wyoming State Senate.

Vigil for the Deceased will be held at St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, at 8 p.m. Funeral Liturgy will be held at St. Mary's Cathedral on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. with Rev. Carl A. Beavers officiating. The family will host a reception at Little America immediately following the funeral Mass. Interment will be at the Lusk Cemetery on Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at 1 p.m.

Pallbearers will be Richard Barrett, Thomas Sandahl, John Sandahl, Larry Barrett, Patrick Barrett and Hon. Edward Grant.

Friends may contribute to the University College of Law, Box 3035, Laramie, WY, 82071; St. Joseph's Children's Home, Box 1117, Torrington, WY, 82240; the Cowboy Joe Club, Box 3963, Laramie, WY, 82071, or a charity of choice.

The Lusk Herald
November 10, 2011
Judge James E. Barrett Remembered

Judge James E. Barrett, of the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, died Nov. 7 at Davis Hospice Center in Cheyenne. Barrett was nominated to the court by President Richard Nixon and confirmed by the United States Senate in April of 1971.

He was only the third person in the history of Wyoming to serve on the United States Court of Appeals. As a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, he participated in the disposition of 9,000 cases and wrote more than 3,000 opinions. His record of productivity is unsurpassed by any other federal appellate judge in the country. He was also designated in 1979 by Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, as the first judge to serve on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review in Washington D.C.

After several terms as Niobrara County and Prosecuting Attorney and Town Attorney for Lusk in the 1950s and 1960s, and 18 years of private practice in Lusk, he served as Wyoming Attorney General from 1967-1971.

A Lusk native, he was always proud to call Lusk his home. Judge Barrett's father Frank A. Barrett, was also a Luskite, and one of the few Americans to serve as U.S. Congressman (four terms), Governor and United States Senator.

A trial lawyer of 34 years and former president of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, Barrett's son, Richard, was born and reared in Lusk and had the privilege of representing the Niobrara County in the 1981-1983 reapportionment lawsuit.

"We won that case at both the federal trial court and the United States Supreme Court and in so doing preserved Niobrara's sole representation in the State Legislature," said Richard Barrett.

Lusk citizens who might be inclined to attend the funeral Mass tentatively scheduled for St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, at 10 a.m. Burial will take place in Lusk on Monday, Nov. 14.

Images & Attachments


Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Wyoming's First Family Enjoy Thanksgiving - The family of Gov. and Mrs. Frank A. Barrett enjoyed Thanksgiving in the governor's mansion at Cheyenne. Standing, left to right are Dr. Francis A Barrett, Jr., their eldest son, and his son Jim; Miss Marialyce Barrett, and James Barrett. Seated, at left Mrs. Francis Barrett holds Francis III, and their other sons, Michael and Larry, are seated with Governor and Mrs. Barrett. Mrs. James Barrett is at the right with their infant daughter, Ann Cathrine. Mr. and Mrs. James Barrett went to Cheyenne from Lusk on Wednesday evening.
Barrett Family Thanksgiving 1955

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Barrett, Alice (02/04/1897 - 02/17/1956) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Francis (06/29/1920 - 09/29/1998) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Frank (11/10/1892 - 05/30/1962) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Harriett (07/21/1922 - 01/18/1992) View Record
Obituary Kellar, Katherine (11/30/-0001 - 01/07/1931) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Augusta (08/03/1906 - 01/16/1986) View Record
Obituary Donoghue, Catherine (11/30/-0001 - 10/08/1949) View Record
Obituary Phelan, Catherine (11/30/-0001 - 03/31/1953) View Record
Obituary Martinez, John (11/30/-0001 - 12/23/1953) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Carmel (05/31/1923 - 01/04/2011) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Patrick (11/30/1856 - 11/03/1939) View Record
Obituary Barrett, Ann (01/11/1951 - 06/26/2020) View Record
Historical Barrett Family History View Record
Obituary Tobin, Marialyce (01/01/1924 - 08/28/2021) View Record