Updated: May 11
Not long after I became Colorado Women’s Bar Association (CWBA) president, I was told that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was coming to Colorado in a few months to present at a CU Law School conference.
Immediately, I wondered whether she would consider speaking at a CWBA event. I called her chambers and spoke to one of her law clerks, who, after a few back-and-forths, informed me she could do it.
CWBA directors and staff quickly organized a Saturday reception at the Denver Athletic Club, including a lecture by Justice Ginsburg, and a presentation to her of the organization’s highest honor, the Mary Florence Lathrop Award, named for the first woman to open a law practice in Denver. I had the honor of presiding over the occasion on Saturday, January 25, 2003. More than 500 guests attended the reception. Security was a major concern. Whenever Supreme Court justices travel, they are accompanied by federal marshals. This night was no different, with several marshals accompanying Justice Ginsburg, all dressed in business suits, looking and acting very professionally.
One of their initial concerns was entrances to the reception hall. They said that the entrance located behind the speakers’ platform would have to remain locked. We explained that particular entrance was the only one in which food could be easily moved into the hall. Fortunately for our hungry guests, the marshals relented.
Then, prior to the lecture, my husband/law partner Bob walked up the podium with a water pitcher he intended to place next to where she would be speaking. A marshal quickly moved toward Bob, obviously intending to keep him away from the secured area. Mary Ricketson, a former CWBA president, intercepted the marshal, informing him that Bob was the current CWBA president’s husband and that Justice Ginsburg might get thirsty during her talk. Another obstacle avoided.
The reception was outstanding. Justice Ginsburg greeted many of our guests wearing black leather gloves, which came in handy when considering the number of hands she shook that night. Her graciousness was apparent. At one point, she was seated at the head table, and my daughter Holly was seated next to her. Mothers tend to remember those moments.
Justice Ginsburg carried her speech in a small, thin black leather box. The box was slightly larger than a typical piece of copy paper. Her remarks were typed and set up so that she could easily move a page from one side of the box to the other, keeping the pages in order as she spoke. As I recall, the talk lasted about 20 to 25 minutes.
Unfortunately, I don’t recall the topic of her speech. Maybe I was more focused on her presence. After her lecture, she again met and spoke with many guests. She was then escorted by the marshals to her hotel, fittingly the Brown Palace.
Thank you, Justice Ginsburg. I will never forget your generosity and kindness. Your talk was the high point of my presidency. You are one of a kind!
Doris Truhlar is an attorney with offices in Centennial. A former President of both the Colorado Women’s Bar Association and the Arapahoe County Bar Association, she has served in numerous roles for both organizations. Her practice includes domestic relations, and also writing wills and related documents. An attorney since 1981, Doris is a founding partner of her law firm, Truhlar and Truhlar, LLP.
Doris has served as councilwoman for the City of Centennial, having been elected in November 2013 in a contested election. She also writes for The Villager newspaper, covering Centennial. Doris has received the recognition of her peers, including her selection to receive the Mary Lathrop Award from the CWBA in 2013. Doris and her law partner/husband Bob were named Law Stars by their alma mater, the University of Denver College of Law. She also has been listed in Super Lawyers.
She has been the chair of boards of several other organizations, including the The Colorado Lawyer and Metro Volunteer Lawyers. Doris has been an adjunct professor at DU four times and has served as a member of the DU Law Alumni Council. A member of Attorney Regulation Committee (related to discipline of attorneys who have committed ethical violations) for nine years, Doris also has received several awards for her pro bono service.
Doris has three wonderful daughters (a school principal, an artist/webmaster/legal assistant and a counselor) and three grandsons. In addition to her J.D. Degree, Doris has a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from DU and a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia.