Judge Wiley Daniel: CBA Honors the Late Legend with its Award of Merit, 1020 COBJ, Vol. 49, No. 9 Pg. 56

PositionVol. 49, 9 [Page 56]

49 Colo.Law. 56

Judge Wiley Daniel: CBA Honors the Late Legend with its Award of Merit

Vol. 49, No. 9 [Page 56]

Colorado Lawyer

October, 2020



The current legal landscape of Denver owes a great debt to Judge Wiley Daniel. He began his career as a civil litigation lawyer, first in Detroit and later in Denver, and in 1995 became the first African American judge appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado—an accomplishment his daughter Jennifer Daniel Collins says was one of his proudest. When he passed away in May 2019, Daniel left behind an exceptional legal career, filled with trailblazing firsts (including his term as the first and only Black CBA president) and numerous accolades.

But what truly distinguished Judge Daniel, and why his influence will never entirely fade from the Denver community, was his extraordinary commitment to that community and the thousands of lives he touched through his mentorship. "His legacy is significant," says attorney Meshach Rhoades. "He gave lawyers and students like me the knowledge, skills, and connections we need to be successful in Colorado's legal community. He has created a community that has already grown exponentially and will continue to do so in his spirit."

Daniel is honored posthumously with the CBA's Award of Merit, which he wins jointly with Judge Alfred Harrell.[1] Both judges share a dedication to fostering inclusivity and diversity in the legal field and have devoted an incredible amount of time and energy to mentoring.

Foundation of Community

Daniel was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Collins remembers she and her two sisters, Stephanie and Nicole, spending summers there as children. They would stay with their father's parents, aunts, and uncles, "and they would tell us stories about him growing up in the segregated South. As an only child of two teachers, he was given lots of love and support not only by his family, but also by his Black teachers. During segregation, his Black Louisville community was very strong and African Americans looked out for other people's kids."

That strong sense of community and looking out for those around you were things that Daniel embodied in his life—things that Collins emulates in her own life and work. "As a kid, I had other interests and did not pay much attention to my dad's work I never considered being a lawyer until I was in...

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