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HomeAWLA Biography of Mary Anne Richey



The late Honorable Mary Anne Richey profoundly touched the lives of all who knew her.  As a lawyer and judge, she gained the deep respect of colleagues, attorneys, litigants, and the public.  She combined her remarkable career with steadfast devotion to her family, husband William Richey and daughter Annie. She was, in addition, an avid sportswoman, an accomplished pilot (having served with the Women's Army Service Pilots during World War II), and a leader in community affairs.


A native of Indiana, Judge Richey enrolled in the University of Arizona College of Law in 1948.  With typical energy and determination, she paid her way through law school by managing a guest ranch and raising racehorses.  She received her J.D. in 1951 and was the only woman among 45 successful candidates for admission to the bar that year.


From the beginning of her legal career, Judge Richey distinguished herself as a talented lawyer committed to fairness and justice.  She served as Deputy County Attorney of Pima County from 1952 to 1954 and as assistant United States Attorney from 1954 to 1960.  She was the first woman United States Attorney in Arizona, holding that office from 1960 to 1961.  From 1962 to 1964, she was Special Assistant Attorney General of Arizona.  In 1964, she began her long tenure as a jurist, first serving as Pima County Superior Court judge from 1964 until 1976.  In 1976, President Gerald Ford appointed her to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, the first woman to hold that position in Arizona, and she continued as a federal trial judge until her death in 1983. 


Despite the many demands on her time, Judge Richey gave generously of her talents and energies to professional and civic organizations.  She served on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Tenure and Executive Committees, and in 1982, Chief Justice Warren Burger appointed her to chair the Subcommittee on Federal-States Relations of the United States Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration.  She was also a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, past-president of the YWCA Board of Directors, and recipient of the Distinguished Citizens Award from the Arizona Alumni Association.


Notwithstanding her many impressive accomplishments, Mary Anne Richey had an abiding personal humility, a deep sense of humanity, and a joy for the simple things in life.


Biography of Mary Anne Richey courtesy of Barbara A. Atwood.  Professor Atwood is the Mary Anne Richey Professor of Law at the University of Arizona of James E. Rogers College of Law.


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