This is Not a Memorial for Judge Richard Matsch
The late judge insisted he didn’t want any formal remembrance. But hundreds gathered to hear about the small man with the outsize personality.

by Julia Cardi

Former U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch died in May. The 10th Circuit Historical Society held an event last week to honor his life and legacy in the legal community. Matsch is best known for presiding over the Oklahoma City Bombing trials. / PHOTO: COURTESY OF RICHARD MATSCH’S FAMILY

The Tenth Circuit Historical Society did not hold a memorial for the late Judge Richard Matsch because the federal judge insisted he did not want any kind of memorial or funeral. Officially, the Historical Society simply held a meeting Wednesday at which people who had crossed paths with Matsch talked about his life and legacy. But it was definitely not a memorial.

“I can see his mustache curling and twitching at me right now,” joked now-Chief Judge James Bredar of the District of Maryland, who clerked for Matsch, in reference to his former boss’ telltale sign of displeasure. Matsch’s family eventually agreed to the event.

Jokes about insisting the event was not a memorial echoed throughout the afternoon. Hundreds of people packed the Byron White U.S. Courthouse’s ceremonial courtroom, including Matsch’s four surviving children, fellow federal judges, lawyers who appeared in front of him and former clerks. Parts of the event mirrored his career as a jurist: 10th Circuit judges sat at their places on the bench, and speakers peppered their remarks with legal jargon analogies.

“The life of Richard P. Matsch has been judged by a jury of his peers: All of us here today and the multitudes of people he influenced who are not in these rooms today. He has been found worthy [and] honorable,” said retired Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis.

In addition to Bredar and Kourlis, attendees heard from retired federal public defender Michael Katz and Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock as well as Matsch’s eldest daughter.

To read this and other complete articles featured in the Nov. 25, 2019 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.