FJA Remembers Judge Wiley Daniel

The Federal Judges Association mourns the passing of Honorable Wiley Young Daniel. Wiley Daniel, Senior United States Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, died suddenly at age 72, on May 10, 2019. He was the former Chief Judge of the District of Colorado (2008-2013), and that Court’s first African American Judge when nominated to the court in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. He was confirmed and commissioned as a United States District Judge on the same date, June 30, 1995.

Judge Daniel held several positions in the Federal Judges leadership, culminating in his Presidency 2009-2011. Wiley, as his friends in the FJA called him, succeeded Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Sr. Judge in the Southern District of Indiana who recalls him as a wonderful friend and colleague and leader of the Association who took seriously the need for Article III Judges to improve their judicial salary and benefits. As President, Judge Daniel, with other dedicated FJA officers, forged working relationships with FJA members to press the groundwork for the future successful litigation that secured COLA restoration for the federal judiciary. Judge Barker also recounts Wiley’s devotion to his wife, Ida and that he was an adoring grandfather, adding “he was an unfailingly kind and cheerful person with a ready smile and contagious laugh. I really loved him very much and will miss him terribly. Losing him so soon into his retirement is a great unfairness to all whose lives he touched, most especially his beloved family.”

W. Royal Furgeson (retired Northern District Judge, District of Texas) succeeded Judge Daniel as FJA President in 2011. Royal worked closely with Wiley and other FJA judges on the first of its kind lawsuit for federal pay restoration to be filed by the Federal Judges Association. Judge Furgeson notes that “Wiley’s judgment was always sound, keeping us steady during the ups and downs of the case. He was pure class, an amazing person, deeply committed to his family and friends and to the cause of justice. I feel fortunate that I walked by his side.” Former President of the FJA in 2013-15, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Margaret McKeown describes Wiley as “a wonderful partner and colleague. I had the fortune to sit with him when he was a visiting judge on the Ninth Circuit and to work closely with him on the FJA pay litigation when I succeeded him as President of the FJA. He was a trailblazer in so many aspects of his career, but he remained humble and wise. For me and many others, Wiley was a role model in his exemplary judicial service, community service, and commitment to his family. My favorite memory is skiing with him in Aspen at Colorado’s CLE and Ski, which he faithfully attended almost every year. I loved him dearly and will miss him.”

Judge Allyson K. Duncan, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and FJA President 2015-17, attended her first Quadrennial when Wiley Daniel was President. She “distinctly remembers his unfailing grace, courtesy and patience under trying circumstances- dealing, for example, with spouses who failed to bring a drivers license or other form of identification required to attend the White House Reception. Wiley recruited Judge Duncan to join the International Association of Judges, and he bonded with her husband during their time in Senegal and a trip to Goree Island. It was Wiley’s brainchild, ably picked up and implemented by Royal, to host the first IAJ meeting in the United States, and the only one in ANAO. I will always remember his warm smile.” Immediate Past-President Marilyn L. Huff, Southern District of California, sums up Judge Daniels’ many contributions to the federal judiciary: “We will miss his wisdom, leadership, determination and friendship”.

I speak for all FJA members who had the honor to work with Wiley Daniel on the many projects of the Federal Judges Association. He was selfless in his energy, yet cool and graceful, inclusive as a rule and most interested in promoting diversity within our own ranks and in the Courts, intelligent and thoughtful on every issue, large and small and fair and courteous in his dealings with all. He welcomed me to membership on the Board of Directors, and encouraged me to speak my ideas from the start. Wiley Daniel led the FJA as he did his court room, with grace and courtesy, intelligence and dedication. He became a friend to us all, and left an amazing legacy of accomplishments. To his loving wife, Ida and their family, to his colleagues in the courts, his church and his community, the Federal Judges Association offers our deepest condolences and says farewell and thank you to our Past President, Wiley Daniel. We are all the better for knowing him.

Judge Cynthia M. Rufe
President, Federal Judges Association

Please feel free to share your memories or condolences with the FJA.


The 2019-2021 Officers of the FJA and Members of the Executive Committee have assumed their positions.

Please click here to view the 2019-2021 Officers of the FJA and Members of the Executive Committee.

About Us

The Federal Judges Association (FJA) is a national voluntary organization of United States federal judges, appointed pursuant to Article III of the Constitution, whose mission is to support and enhance the role of its members within a fair, impartial and independent judiciary; to actively build a community of interest among its members; and to sustain our system of justice through civics education and public outreach.
The independence of Article III judges is assured under the Constitution by their appointment for life without diminution in pay. Nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate, Article III judges are thus protected from intimidation, undue influence, coercion, or domination so that they may judge fairly and independently in every case, as the law and facts require.
Inevitably, from time to time, some judicial decisions are unpopular.  The FJA, as an independent organization, can speak in one voice to protect the independence of the judiciary and to explain its significance to a free society.  The Association expresses the collective view of Article III judges to other branches of government and the public on issues related to fair and impartial courts.