Simple jQuery Dropdown Menu | Finished Article

Judge Barbara Durham


January 4, 1980–January 14, 1985

Appointed by Governor Ray; Resigned to accept appointment to Supreme Court

Barbara M. Durham was born on October 6, 1942 in Anacortes, Washington. She graduated from Vashon Island High School, attended Gonzaga for one year, and graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Business Administration. Justice Durham stated, “After spending a year as a securities analyst in New York City, I decided to become an attorney, in keeping with a story told in our family that, when I was five, my father told me that he had just won a lawsuit and been awarded $2,000. However, he said that the attorneys had gotten most of the money. I reportedly then said that when I grew up, that was what I was going to be.”

Justice Durham attended Stanford University Law School, graduating in 1968, and first practiced law as a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County. In 1973, Justice Durham was appointed to the Mercer Island District Court. Justice Durham stated, “The court was strictly low-budget. My courtroom, about the size of an average living room, was next door to a bathroom used by the city’s police officers. Thanks to the thin walls, court sessions were punctuated by the sound of a toilet flushing. When I first reported for work, my office was equipped with a bathtub but had no desk or window.”

In 1977, Justice Durham was elected to the King County Superior Court and served there until being appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1980 by Governor Dixy Ray. Justice Durham noted she had the dubious honor of being a member of the Court of Appeals, Division One, and the Supreme Court “when they moved to new homes.” Justice Durham stated, “I will never forget when a group of us went to look at One Union Square as it was under construction. We were asked if we wanted to actually see where our offices would be located, not realizing when we did so how ‘high’ in the air the offices actually were (and me afraid of heights).”

In 1985, Governor John Spellman appointed Justice Durham to the Washington State Supreme Court. She stated, “I have been fortunate to be able to pave the way for women in the judicial system in Washington, having been the first woman Chief Judge for the Court of Appeals and the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” Justice Durham served on the Washington Supreme Court until September 1999.

Justice Durham was the first judge in Washington to serve at all four levels of the state’s court. For the Court of Appeals 30th Anniversary, Justice Durham stated, “It is a privilege for me to have served on all four levels of the courts of Washington State and to have been a judge almost as many years as the Court of Appeals is old.”

In January 1999, President Bill Clinton nominated Justice Durham to a seat on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Durham later withdrew her name. Justice Durham passed away on December 30, 2002 at the age of 60. Her spouse Dr. Charles Divelbiss created the Barbara Durham Memorial Fund for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases in her honor.


Privacy and Disclaimer NoticesSitemap

© Copyright 2019. Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts.