Gary M. Jackson, a Denver County Court judge who stepped down at the end of last year, will be inducted into the National Bar Association's Fred David Gray Hall of Fame for his professional achievements and work on behalf of diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession.
"I am thrilled. For me it's like reaching the top of the mountain," said Jackson, who has been a member of the group since 1971.
The National Bar Association represents African-American lawyers, judges, professors and students. Since the Hall of Fame's establishment in 1986, there have been more than 300 inductees. Jackson will join fellow Coloradan Irving Andrews, who formed the first racially-integrated law practice in Colorado and worked on the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case.
"Many lawyers practicing in Colorado will represent that they owe much of their success to the dedicated mentoring and wise counsel they have received from Judge Jackson. He knows no equal when it comes to the time and energy he has devoted over many years to the causes and individuals he so deeply cares about," said the Sam Cary Bar Association, a professional organization for Black attorneys in Colorado, in a congratulatory statement.
In addition to co-founding the Sam Cary Bar Association, Jackson worked as a prosecutor in Denver and for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado. He then entered private practice, and served as the trial attorney in the acquisition of land that Coors Field is built upon.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Jackson to the county court in 2013. He is currently a semi-retired senior judge and co-chair of a coalition promoting diversity on the bench.
Jackson, who was once the only Black deputy district attorney in Colorado, has praised Gov. Jared Polis for appointing multiple Black judges during his term so far. As of June 30, there were 11 Black judges out of 332 in Colorado, not including Denver County Court. Statewide, 84% of district, county and appellate judges were white.
“Most people, when they come into court, they’re looking for their day in court. They’re not looking for any type of favoritism. When they come into my courtroom, they are going to trust the decisions I make because I look like them,” Jackson told CBS4 last year.
Jackson's induction will occur on July 27, during the National Bar Association's virtual convention. The Hall of Fame is named for Gray, who was the legal advisor for Martin Luther King, Jr. and also represented Rosa Parks. Gray will be in attendance for the induction.