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Murray Journal

Critchfield takes helm as new city attorney

Mar 07, 2018 02:15PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

G. L. Critchfield takes the helm of the Murray City Attorney’s office with 19 years as Deputy City Attorney. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

In the legendary western film “A Fistful of Dollars,” the protagonist, played by Clint Eastwood, is imperturbable and has a strong sense of justice; the character is also known as the “man with no name.” Murray’s new city attorney is also unflappable with a devotion to justice, but with a slight variation in the name thing: he goes by G. L.

G. L. Critchfield was appointed by Mayor Blair Camp to take over the city attorney’s role after Frank Nakamura’s retirement. Critchfield worked with Nakamura for over 19 years as the deputy city attorney. 

“Mayor Camp and the city council have been very supportive and have made the transition a great experience,” said Critchfield.

“He has provided many years of services to the city in the role of deputy city attorney,” Camp said. “And I believe he will do exceptionally well in this new position.” 

Critchfield’s office is organized into the civil division and the criminal division. The Murray City Attorney’s Office represents the mayor, city council, city departments, boards, and commissions in handling the legal business of the city, similar to that of the general counsel of a large private corporation. The criminal division prosecutes misdemeanors and infractions of state laws and city ordinances.

Prior to coming to Murray City, Critchfield spent four years as a trial lawyer, where his experience included criminal defense and criminal prosecution. In 1997, Critchfield was hired as city prosecutor for Murray. Eighteen months later he was promoted to deputy city attorney, and he has held that position ever since.  

“At Murray City, every issue we face is a collaboration with other city staff and elected officials,” noted Critchfield. 

One of Critchfield’s earliest assignments was also his most meaningful. Then-Mayor Lynn Pett had sought to address the two toxic smelters where Intermountain Medical Center now stands. In a first for a municipality, Murray took the initiative and sought help from the Environmental Protection Agency. Since the city took such an active position, EPA officials made changes in federal law that allowed Murray to become the lead agency in cleaning up the site. Critchfield was involved with much of the legal wrangling.

“I am very proud of the work we took over and continued that had been begun by former Mayor Lynn Pett and his staff that resulted in the redevelopment of the smelter site,” said Critchfield.     

Critchfield likes to keep his life balanced. “My wife, Becky, has been the biggest influence in my life. Marrying her was the greatest decision I will ever make. She keeps me grounded and reminds me that a proper perspective keeps the proper balance.”

“My greatest mentor was my former boss, City Attorney Frank Nakamura. Frank is first and foremost a wonderful person of great integrity. He emphasized having the proper work-family balance and to always take the high road.” Indeed, Critchfield will have big shoes to fill as Nakamura took great strides to make Murray City transparent in its dealings and recognized for having the least amount of closed meetings in the state.

Critchfield intends to build on what Nakamura started. “I had the good fortune to work for two previous city attorneys whose combined careers as city attorney for Murray span at least 40 years. They provided the highest quality legal services with the utmost professionalism. I intend to continue this tradition of delivering quality legal services to city officials and city staff.”

When not in the office, Critchfield states he likes to spend time with his family, which includes occasional travel to visit his adult children and grandchildren who live outside of Utah.  Critchfield also noted, “And nothing beats an evening with my wife.”