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The CWBA's 2024 Judicial Excellence Award Goes to: The Honorable Olympia Z. Fay



The Honorable Olympia Z. Fay is the CWBA’s 2024 Judicial Excellence Award Honoree. Judge Olympia Z. Fay joined the Denver County Court in January 2015. During her time on the bench, she has also served as mentor and role model for many young students and attorneys. Judge Fay has boldly helped carve the way for other women, especially women of color and of diverse backgrounds, on the Colorado bench and in the community.



Judge Fay knew early in her life that she wanted to be a judge. While earning her bachelor’s degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University, she interned at the Office of State Attorney for Palm Beach County in the Crime Against Children Unit. One day, prior to a proceeding, while she was helping a young victim get settled and acquainted with the courtroom, the judge stepped out of his chambers to address her and the victim. Judge Fay admired his thorough and impassioned explanation of the truth-seeking purpose of a jury trial. She also noticed how warm and inviting this judge acted towards her and the victim. It was this encounter that made Judge Fay aspire to become a judge, and she set out to law school with this goal in mind.


After graduating from the University of Denver Sturm School of Law in 2006, Judge Fay acquired several years of invaluable civil litigation experience as an attorney at Holme, Roberts, and Owen LLP and Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP. As much as Judge Fay enjoyed her experiences as a civil litigator, she knew that both civil and criminal law experience were important to practice before joining the bench. In 2012, she became a Deputy District Attorney for the 20th Judicial District, and she also served as a Denver Assistant City Attorney. After years of hard work grounded in the strong belief that the judicial system should be a system for all, Judge Fay applied and was appointed to the Denver County Court by former Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.


Judge Fay presides over a Denver County Court criminal docket. According to Judge Fay, some of the most rewarding aspects of serving on the bench are the daily courtroom interactions where everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard and showing humanity to people during extremely difficult times.


In addition to her authenticity, compassion, and integrity, Judge Fay’s ability to lead is one of her defining characteristics. Her commitment to mentorship is so strong that Judge Fay is known to quote Marian Wright Edelman, “You cannot be, what you cannot see.” Judge Fay helps people see their potential by mentoring numerous attorneys who appear in her courtroom because she believes candid experiences are crucial to professional growth. She also regularly hosts students from Overland High School, a diverse school with 76 languages spoken by students, in her courtroom. Judge Fay encourages these students to consider a career in law and serving as a judicial officer because it is important to have different perspectives and lived experiences in the legal profession.


Judge Fay’s accomplishments on the bench include:

  • Spearheading efforts on the Denver County Court Resource Committee to change the way jury trials are scheduled in the County Court to promote efficiency, preparedness, and certainty for attorneys, witnesses, and jurors;

  • Presiding over a naturalization ceremony;

  • Receiving the 2019 Colorado Judicial Excellence Award;

  • Speaking at COBALT regarding Authentic Leadership; and

  • Serving as the CWBA’s Judge in Residence.


Judge’s Fay’s local and legal community involvement includes:

  • Faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy;

  • Member of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association;

  • Member of the Sam Cary Bar Association;

  • Member of the Colorado Bar Association;

  • Member of the Denver Bar Association;

  • Speaker at local elementary schools about the importance of civics; and

  • Member of the Faculty of Federal Advocates.


Judge Fay wants members of the CWBA to know that she is absolutely honored to receive the CWBA's Judicial Excellence Award this year. She believes, as a judge, she has “grown with this organization” and feels fortunate to genuinely love her job. She still is excited to wake up every day, put on her robe, and serve the community. She believes each day presents an opportunity to make a difference that is demonstrated through her preparation, equal application of the law, and compassion. She also believes that her colleagues work hard because they too want what is best for their community.


When Judge Fay is not on the bench or helping those in the community, she spends time with her husband watching their teenage sons play basketball, football, and lacrosse.


To register for the CWBA's Judicial Reception on April 2, 2024, sign up here.


 

Victoria “Tori” Kosobucki is an associate attorney at Polidori, Franklin, Monahan & Beattie, LLC where she specializes in family law. Tori grew up in the Midwest, graduated from Marquette University Law School in May 2021, and moved to Denver shortly thereafter. In addition to being a member of the CWBA, she is also a member of the Denver Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, the Colorado Bar Association-Family Law Section, and Metro Denver Interdisciplinary Committee.

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