Grand Junction grad on state’s high court

Monica Marquez

A Grand Junction native now sits on the Colorado Supreme Court.

That happened Wednesday when Gov. Bill Ritter named Monica Marquez to the high court.

The 41-year-old, who heads the State Services Division in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, also is the state’s first openly lesbian supreme court justice.

“I grew up in a multicultural family in Grand Junction,” she said during a news conference Wednesday in the Capitol. “I was immersed in a foreign country as a 16-year-old exchange student. I was blessed with the opportunity to be the first in my family to attend Stanford and Yale.

“Along the way, I’ve learned many life lessons. I’ve worked with and for people of all backgrounds, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. I believe this wealth of life experiences has allowed me to view the world from multiple vantage points. It’s instilled in me a healthy balance of perspective.”

Marquez, a 1987 graduate of Grand Junction High School, is a former president and current board member of the Colorado Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Bar Association. She and her partner of 11 years live in Denver.

Although Marquez replaces Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who is retiring, she won’t necessarily take on that top role.

Over the next few weeks, Marquez and the six other justices on the high court will elect their own chief.

Marquez’s appointment came with immediate praise from officials on both sides of the political aisle.

While Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, called her one of his brightest attorneys, Democrats in the Colorado Legislature said she is a fitting choice.

Ritter, a Democrat, said she and her family have deep Colorado roots.

“While this was a tough decision because of the other two finalists, the thing that set Monica apart was the sophistication of her analytical ability that is quite remarkable,” he said.

“It was a remarkable experience not only to discuss with her the rule of law, the anchor that the rule of law plays in American society, but also to read her writings and to understand that level of sophistication.”

Marquez was one of three possible nominees. The other two were Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Robert Russel and El Paso County District Judge David Prince.

Both were appointed to the bench by former Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican.

Marquez is the daughter of former Grand Junction attorney and judge Jose Marquez, who served as a 21st Judicial District judge in the 1980s and later as a judge on the Court of Appeals. He retired in 2008.

Monica Marquez was valedictorian of her high school class and earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford University in 1991. She earned her law degree from Yale in 1997.

Marquez has worked in the Attorney General’s Office since 2002.


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