American Judges Association


Court Review: Journal of the American Judges Association


Gary M. Jackson

Date of this Version



Court Review - Volume 57


Used by permission.


In October 2018, I had a call to action. It was the not the result of an unarmed Black man unnecessarily killed by a white police officer, nor the horrific botching of a no-knock search warrant in a woman’s apartment resulting in her death. My call to action came when a Black colleague, Denver District Court Judge William Robbins, announced his retirement. At that time, Judge Robbins was the only Black district court judge out of 181 in the state of Colorado. Soon after, Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Karen Ashby, a Black woman, announced her retirement. She was the only Black appellate court judge or justice out of 29 in Colorado. These two announced retirements could have resulted in zero Black judges on the highest courts of Colorado. This possibility distressed me. It seemed that the prospect of bringing diversity to Colorado’s judicial branch, initiated by the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, had come to a halt. The potential of zero Black judges and an equally bleak number of Hispanic judges at the highest judicial levels was more than just an embarrassment to our legal system—it was an affront to our judiciary and to the citizens of Colorado.