Gregory Stephen Kitterman, a well-known Little Rock attorney who served as local counsel for Paula Jones when she sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment, died at his home Wednesday. He was 59.
Kitterman died of acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He was diagnosed in 2014 and underwent several years of interventions at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston before deciding to stop treatment earlier this week.
Even throughout his illness, friends and relatives remember Kitterman as a uniquely upbeat, magnetic person whose enthusiasm for life matched his tenacity in the courtroom.
"He was the kind of guy that people gravitated to," said Judge Morgan "Chip" Welch, who met Kitterman around 1985. "He was always a happy warrior."
Although Jones was among Kitterman's most high-profile clients, those who knew him say his true gift was representing ordinary people as a plaintiff's attorney, taking on everything from traffic violations to workplace injury to criminal cases.
He often would take on cases that other attorneys would see as futile and win them, his brother John Kitterman said. Former clients frequently became Kitterman's lifelong friends.
"The thing about Greg was, as a lawyer, he didn't look at a client as just another file or a fee. He looked at them as a person. He got to know them. And he worked his guts out for them," said Hugh Crisp, a Little Rock attorney and family friend.
Kitterman was born in Jonesboro and attended college at Arkansas State University, where he met his wife, Susan "Susie" Wren Kitterman, at a street dance during their junior year.
The couple married in 1982, a month before Kitterman began law school at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
After completing his juris doctorate at W.H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1984, Kitterman clerked at the Friday, Eldredge & Clark law firm before going into business for himself.
He and his brother, also an attorney, shared an office and maintained separate practices at desks 30 feet apart from each other for decades.
In court, friends said Kitterman easily earned the trust of juries. He was active in local bar associations and had a reputation as a highly skilled attorney who sometimes sat in for judges who needed to recuse from cases, and occasionally talked about running for judge himself.
"I have no doubt that he was going to end up as one of the bright lights in the legal profession at the end of his career," Welch said. "He would have probably ended up a judge, or a congressman, or whatever he wanted to be, just because of his spirit and his affability."
In 1994, Kitterman came to represent Jones, a former state government employee who said Clinton had propositioned her while he was governor of Arkansas, after one of her friends referred her to his firm.
The case ultimately was decided by the Supreme Court as Clinton v. Jones, which set a precedent that sitting presidents are not immune from civil lawsuits.
Like many of his clients, Jones stayed in touch with Kitterman over the years. She said she most remembers his "wonderful, vibrant attitude toward life. ... He was just a great person," she said. "He loved people, he wanted to help people; it didn't matter what their political beliefs were."
Kitterman was active in his Catholic faith and was devoted to family, "worship[ping] the ground that his wife, Susie, walked on," Crisp said.
He loved to take sons Solomon and Gregory hunting and, when they were small, to a farm the family owned near Roland for dirt bikes, go-karts and horseback riding, though he'd also head there to think and scribble longhand notes about cases.
"I would be out there hundreds of times late in the afternoon, and there'd be that notepad, laying on the hood of [his] truck," John Kitterman said.
After Kitterman got sick, clients regularly called his office to check on him, his brother-in-law Tom Thrash said.
Though his cancer treatments were demanding, Thrash said Kitterman continued to maintain the positive attitude for which he had been known.
"He was always happy, he was always funny, he had a great outlook on life," he said. "He always looked at the bright side of everything."
Metro on 10/20/2018
Print Headline: Friends praise life of late LR attorney who represented Paula Jones