A proclamation by Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey declares that March 2016 is Women's History Month.

A proclamation by Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey declares that March 2016 is Women’s History Month.

Sharing some news from the Governor’s Office you may have missed, a proclamation of March as Women’s History Month. The proclamation posted above bears careful study, as it praises the achievements of attorneys and jurists Sandra Day O’Connor and Lorna Lockwood. Here is the Governor’s announcement:

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Governor Doug Ducey has signed a proclamation honoring the brilliant and courageous women who shaped Arizona’s history. His office also released a video that celebrates just some of the many Arizona women who have torn down barriers throughout the decades.

“In Arizona, women aren’t just a part our history,” said Governor Ducey. “They’ve led it. These women have been Supreme Court Justices, Governors, Congresswomen and more. This month, we commemorate the achievements of Arizona women as we look forward to the next generation of female leaders in our state.”

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (ret.) and Gov. Doug Ducey, September 2015.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.) and Gov. Doug Ducey, September 2015.

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Hon. Mary H. Murguia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

There are a lot of ways to celebrate the contributions of women to human history. And “the women of DLA Piper” (their description) opted to gather people together yesterday to hear from Judge Mary Murguia, newly elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

It was an inspired choice.

When she took the bench in 2000, Judge Murguia was the first Latina to serve as a federal Judge in the District of Arizona. And her legal career has spanned a period as an experienced prosecutor at the state and federal level, as well as time as an administrator at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

The judge’s remarks were focused on the occasion of Women’s History Month, and her compelling life story was an appropriate subject for such an occasion.

She recalled that, as a new assistant district attorney in Kansas City in the mid-1980s, she and the two other women lawyers were assigned all of the sexual abuse and domestic-violence cases (along with many other cases). But the gender biases of the times provided a surprising benefit, she said: Those cases, unlike many others, were more likely to go to trial. And the challenges that they carried in poor or missing physical evidence and witness problems made her and the other women lawyers work harder to become excellent trial lawyers.

Through her career, she also had the chance to work on the Timothy McVeigh case and other high-profile matters.

Judge Mary Murguia at DLA Piper event, April 28, 2011

Judge Murguia recalled that when she and U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton both took the federal bench, they immediately tripled the number of women trial judges in the U.S. district (joining longtime Judge Roslyn Silver).

Many may recall where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot, she said (she was only 1 at the time). But different mileposts mark her life. She said she remembers where she was when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated as vice president to a major party ticket. And she can picture when the name of Sandra Day O’Connor was forwarded as a Supreme Court nominee.

Like many successful lawyers, the Judge credits her family with her achievements. Her Mexican American parents worked long and hard for their seven children. Today, six of the seven have post-graduate degrees. And four of them are lawyers.

Judge Murguia laughed as she remembered overhearing her mother and godmother talking about her and her twin sister Janet (then working in the White House and today the President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza).

Her godmother told their mom that she must be very proud to have a federal judge and a White House staffer as daughters. The two sisters, in the next room, wondered how their mom would reply, but they may not have expected this: “I would be very proud if they knew how to make flour tortillas.”

“I am a witness to and evidence of their commitment to the American Dream,” Judge Murguia said. “All the credit goes to them.”

Representing the DLA Piper law firm were litigation associate Laura Kam and partner Cynthia Ricketts, who introduced Judge Murguia. Congratulations to them and all the women who put together such a great program.

Some event photos are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.