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Constandinos "Deno" Himonas was sworn in as a Utah Supreme Court justice at a Wednesday ceremony, where he was described as a dedicated jurist with a great intellect and delightful wit.
Chief Justice Matthew Durrant, who administered the oath, said the justices "are thrilled beyond words" to be joined by Himonas on the state's high court.
And Gov. Gary Herbert citing Himonas' statement at his confirmation hearing last month that he was committed to making decisions by studying the language of a statute and if there is any ambiguity, its history said the newest justice will be a good steward of the law who leaves his personal views outside the courtroom.
Himonas, 50, who is Greek Orthodox, will be the only justice on the five-person court who is not a member of the state's predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Himonas earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Utah and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He has been a trial judge for more than a decade in 3rd District Court, which covers Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties.
He was nominated by Herbert to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Ronald Nehring. The Utah Senate confirmed the appointment Feb. 13 in a 27-0 vote.
Herbert has said he did not ask Himonas about his political views and there were no litmus tests. The justice is registered as an unaffiliated voter.
Himonas was raised in Price and graduated from Carbon High School. He was an attorney with Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough until his appointment to the bench in 2004 by then-Gov. Olene Walker.
During his time as a judge, Himonas has overseen thousands of cases, including more than 100 jury trials. He sentenced Alan Lee Marx in January to a one-to-15-year prison term in the cold-case beating death of Ward "Hank" Woolverton in 1997 and five years to life for aggravated robbery.
Other matters that have come before Himonas include the case of Jorge Martin Benvenuto for the 1996 shooting of Zachary Snarr and Yvette Rodier, 18-year-olds who were photographing the moon at Little Dell Reservoir. Benvenuto struck a plea deal in the case to take the death penalty off the table. And Himonas presided in the trial of several defendants charged with the gang-related drive-by shooting of 7-year-old Maria del Carmen Menchaca while she was playing in the yard of her Glendale home.
At Wednesday's ceremony, state Court of Appeals Judge John Pearce said Himonas cares about doing everything the right way, for the right reasons.
"He's kind and he's generous," added Pearce, who worked with Himonas at Jones Waldo.
Himonas' daughters spoke of their father's dedication and the love of education that he and their mother instilled in them.
Alexandra Himonas said her father deeply cared about every case. And Katherine Himonas said he finds adventure and joy in everything he does.
"We are so proud of you," Katherine said. "To me, your life is the quintessential success story."