Nancy Rice is only the second woman to serve as chief justice on Colorado’s Supreme Court, but she’s perfectly comfortable not receiving the recognition for breaking barriers. Justices Jean Dubofsky and Mary Mullarkey did that on the state Supreme Court — Dubofsky as the first woman justice and Mullarkey as the first woman chief.
“Thank you very much Mary Mullarkey for being the first, because I get to be, ‘Who cares that you’re the second.’ And that fits my personality and fits me really well,” Rice told Law Week in February. “So I think Mary and Jeannie and those people are about 10 years older than I am for the most part, and a lot happened in those 10 years. I mean, they’re the ones who knocked down the doors.”
Rice says what she means, because straightforwardness is a hallmark of her personality. Despite her general candor, Rice chose not to give interviews following her retirement announcement. Rather than focusing on what’s next for her, many who worked with Rice were able to provide insight about her career on the bench, her most important judicial projects and what she was like as a mentor and boss.
Her straightforward demeanor defines how she approaches her work: The speeches she gives, the opinions she writes and how she views the role of law and the judiciary in everyday people’s lives. To Rice, the law should be a tool to solve problems and should be understandable to that end.