Judge Wiley Daniel

Judge Wiley Daniel

FJA Remembers Judge Wiley Daniel

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

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."

Senior Judge Charles R. Simpson III, United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky, notes: "Wiley was an accomplished judge, and a great natural leader. He was also a native Kentuckian. Wiley was born in Louisville, and went to high school here before going on to greater things. So we are proud to claim him as our own. My best memory of Wiley goes back some years to an international meeting of judges at which Wiley and I were delegates. Hungary was the host country, and the meeting was in Siofok, a town on Lake Balaton southwest of Budapest. After a long day of meetings, our hosts put on a dinner for the delegates at an outdoor restaurant. As the dinner wound down, a band started playing polka music. Wiley got up and started dancing with Ida, and pretty soon a conga line formed...I’ll never forget how the judges from other countries were impressed with the infectious good humor of our association’s President. No one at that dinner could think that American Judges were aloof, with our FJA President happily joining in the fun. We will all miss Wiley, but are thankful to have known him."

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

SHARED MEMORIES AND CONDOLENCES

This is a shock. He was a helluva fellow, and an A-1 judge in every way.

Billy R. Wilson

United States District Court

Eastern District of Arkansas

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Wiley was an accomplished judge, and a great natural leader.

He was also a native Kentuckian. Wiley was born in Louisville, and went to high school here before going on to greater things. So we are proud to claim him as our own.

My best memory of Wiley goes back some years to an international meeting of judges at which Wiley and I were delegates. Hungary was the host country, and the meeting was in Siofok, a town on Lake Balaton southwest of Budapest. After a long day of meetings, our hosts put on a dinner for the delegates at an outdoor restaurant. As the dinner wound down, a band started playing polka music. Wiley got up and started dancing with Ida, and pretty soon a conga line formed. It got bigger and bigger, until most of the judges were snaking through the restaurant in the conga line. Wiley waved me into the line, and soon enough I was conga dancing behind the President of the FJA and his wife,  both having a joyous and happy time in the company of judges from around the world. I’ll never forget how the judges from other countries were impressed with the infectious good humor of our association’s President. No one at that dinner could think that American Judges were aloof, with our FJA President happily joining in the fun.

We will all miss Wiley, but are thankful to have known him.

 Chuck

Charles R. Simpson III

United States District Court

Western District of Kentucky