Judge Howell steps down

Respected jurist is the presiding judge of the Superior Court

Butte County Superior Court Judge Steven J. Howell (pictured) has announced his retirement, effective Feb. 29. Howell was appointed to the South County Municipal Court in 1987 by Gov. George Deukmejian. Nine years later he was promoted by Gov. Pete Wilson to the Superior Court, where he ran unopposed for re-election five times.

Howell has been the presiding judge in both municipal and superior courts and is largely credited with the expansion of Oroville Superior Court, which for a number of years was located in a double-wide construction trailer. He also helped get state funding for a new courthouse in Chico, slated for completion in 2014.

Longtime Chico defense attorney Dennis Latimer said he was “sorry he’s leaving our court because he is one of the best judges we have ever had in Butte County.” Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey called Howell a realist who respects defendants’ rights.