Mary Mullarkey ’68: The first woman to serve as Colorado Supreme Court chief justice

Mary Mullarkey ’68, the longest-serving justice in Colorado history who spent 23 years on the state’s highest court, including 12 years as its chief, and wrote hundreds of opinions, died March 31, 2021. She was 77.

Described by a fellow Colorado Supreme Court chief justice as “a gift to the system and to the court,” Mullarkey was an early role model for women in the state’s legal circles, leading a cultural shift within the judicial branch that opened more doors for them and for minorities within the system, and improved the way everyday citizens involved in the courts were treated. She is credited with always working to move the system forward to serve the public, and for forging a lasting legacy in the state.

Mullarkey was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1987 and was selected to serve as chief justice in 1998. Before her appointment to the state Supreme Court, she was an attorney in the equal employment opportunity section of the U.S. Department of Interior, headed the appellate section in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and served as the state’s solicitor general.

Read Mary Mullarkey’s obituary in The Denver Post.