Whether a judge or on the jury, he saw a ‘true majesty’ in America’s courts

Judge Larry Boyle
Judge Larry Boyle

Advocate for justice, international legal adviser and longtime Idaho Judge Larry Boyle died Thursday of complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to his obituary published in the Statesman.

He was 74.

Born June 23, 1943, Boyle’s legal career in Idaho spanned 36 years after his 1972 graduation from the University of Idaho’s law school.

Starting out in private practice, Boyle later became a district court judge in 1986 and was appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1989.

Among other notable cases, his early experience as a judge included hearing the case against Paul Ezra Rhoades, eventually convicted of three separate Eastern Idaho abductions and murders.

Boyle in 1988 was the judge who sentenced Rhoades to death. In 2011, shortly after Rhoades was executed, he commended the appeals process: “With the burden of imposing a judgment that would require taking a human life, even that of a man who committed such heinous and unspeakable crimes, I was pleased, relieved really, that my handling of those cases so long ago and the weighty decisions I had to make, were carefully and thoroughly reviewed, and then affirmed at every step... The only good thing about all of this is the true majesty and beauty of the law that guarantees due process to everyone, including a young man who committed such terrible crimes.”

Boyle was named to the federal bench in 1992, serving as a U.S. magistrate judge for Idaho until 2008.

During his time as a federal judge, the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Boyle to teach jurist training in developing democracies, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. He once conducted court proceedings in Bangkok, Thailand, regarding U.S. citizens who’d been imprisoned in that country. And over time, he also presided over federal court hearings in California, Utah, Washington and Arizona.

In 1999, Boyle had the rare experience of being a sitting judge selected to take part in a jury. He spent 10 weeks as one of a dozen jurors in a complicated racketeering case involving insurance executive Richard Hoyle.

After the case, Boyle told the Statesman about the challenges he faced as a juror.

“All these years I’ve wanted to be a fly on the wall to see how a jury really works,” he said at the time. “One of the conclusions I reached from that new perspective is that it is far more difficult to be a juror than it is to be a presiding judge.”

He told the Statesman it was a learning experience.

“A juror is totally at the mercy of how the case proceeds,” Boyle said. “Then, rather than one person making up his or her own mind, we are sent into a small, cramped room with no air conditioning to make a decision as a committee. On top of that, our decision must be unanimous.”

Boyle was also a graduate of Pocatello High School and Brigham Young University. Outside of the courts, he was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also spent many years coaching his own and other children in youth baseball and basketball, according to his obituary.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly Rigby Boyle; five sons; one daughter; 24 grandchildren and other family members.