We are saddened by the passing of our dear friend and former colleague, James Orris Latturner, who passed on August 30th. Jim worked at Legal Aid Chicago from 1969 to 1995 (formerly known as The Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and LAF). He was known as a key leader and teacher and a big contributor to our organization’s early success.
Jim joined Legal Aid Chicago as a Supervisory Attorney in 1969. By 1975, he became Deputy Director in charge of state court litigation. It was during this time at Legal Aid Chicago that Jim hired a new supervisor for the Northwest Office, Cathleen Combs. Jim and Cathleen fell in love at Legal Aid Chicago and were married in 1989. In 1995, after a twenty-five-year career at Legal Aid Chicago, Jim joined Cathleen at a firm that became Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, where his daughter, Kathleen, is now comptroller.
Of his tenure at Legal Aid Chicago, Jim was most proud of two cases he argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He won key decisions establishing that the hearsay rule applies in administrative hearings, and that Medicaid must in some circumstances cover medically necessary gender transition surgery.
In his twenty-five-year career doing public interest work, he focused on consumer law, with endless successful battles against car dealers, furniture stores, and other creditors who sought to take advantage of low-income people. Jim was a fervent advocate of the “little guy.” “He taught me and many others that a big part of what we do with our fine lawyering is to shift the power – that we and our clients belonged on the plaintiffs’ side of things, not always the defense,” said Jim’s former colleague, John Bouman, Director of Legal Action Chicago.
Jim loved to travel. He visited all 50 states, all seven continents, and over 110 countries with his friends and family. Jim was an avid reader, photographer, and birdwatcher. Above all, Jim was a dedicated father and one zealous advocate of equal justice. The legal aid community and those he served will miss him. Rest in Peace, Jim.
Read Jim’s obituary here.