Wiley Daniel, First Black Colorado U.S. District Court Judge, Passes Away at Age 72

by Julia Cardi

Judge Wiley Daniel, the first black U.S. District Court judge in Colorado, died May 10 at age 72.

President Bill Clinton appointed Daniel to the court in 1995, and he assumed the chief judge role in 2008. Daniel was also the only black president of the Colorado Bar Association, from 1992 to 1993.

Speaking with 9News, Judge Don Toussaint of the Arapahoe County Court called Daniel a “trailblazer,” saying, “There’s not too many African-American partners downtown on 17th Street. He was one of them.” He added Daniel laid the groundwork for attorneys and judges who came after him.

Daniel practiced in civil litigation for 24 years before becoming a judge. Prior to moving to Colorado, he practiced in Detroit, Michigan, and taught as an adjunct professor at the Detroit College of Law.

Daniel received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Howard University. He taught trial advocacy courses at the University of Colorado Law School and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. For his work toward diversity in the legal profession, Daniel received the Center for Legal Inclusiveness’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

In a statement Sunday, U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said “we are all grateful to have appeared before him.”

“While many of us work to make a difference in the legal profession, the Honorable Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel led the way.”