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Richard L. Gabriel

Richard L. Gabriel (born March 3, 1962) is an American lawyer and judge, who is an associate justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.[1] He previously served on the Colorado Court of Appeals from 2008 to 2015.[1]

Richard L. Gabriel
Associate Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court
Assumed office
September 1, 2015
Appointed byJohn Hickenlooper
Preceded byGregory J. Hobbs Jr.
Personal details
Born (1962-03-03) March 3, 1962 (age 57)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Alma materYale University
University of Pennsylvania Law School

Education and early careerEdit

Gabriel was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1962, and was one of seven children.[2] He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in American studies in 1984 at Yale University, and completed a law degree in 1987 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was articles editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in 1986-87.[1]

Gabriel clerked for federal judge J. Frederick Motz of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in 1987-88. He worked in private practice in New York City from 1988 to 1990. Gabriel moved to Colorado in 1990, because of a job offered to his wife, and was an associate attorney and then a partner at a law firm in Denver from 1994 to 2008.[2] Gabriel's wife, Jill Wichlens, is an attorney with the Federal public defender's office in Denver.[3]

Gabriel specialized in business law, including commercial litigation and intellectual property law.[2] He also served as city prosecutor for Lafayette, Colorado for several years.[1] In 2007, Gabriel was named the Intellectual Property Lawyer of the Year by Law Week Colorado.[4]

Judicial serviceEdit

The Governor of Colorado Bill Ritter announced in May 2008 that Gabriel would be appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, and he was sworn in as a judge on June 30.[5] He was retained in a retention election in November 2010, winning 65.9 per cent of the vote.[6]

In March 2015, Colorado Supreme Court justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr. announced that he would retire effective from September 1, 2015.[7] The Colorado Judicial Nominating Commission selected Gabriel as one of three possible candidates to replace Hobbs.[8] The other two candidates were University of Colorado Law School professor Melissa Hart and district court judge David Prince of the 4th Judicial District.[8] Governor John Hickenlooper announced Gabriel as his choice to replace Hobbs on June 23, 2015.[9]

In May 2017, Justice Gabriel concurred in judgment when finding that imposing an eighty-four year sentence on a fifteen-year-old murderer did not violate the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition on sentencing juveniles to life without parole because the child might live through the end of his sentence.[10][11]

Gabriel was retained by voters in a 2018 retention election.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "Richard L. Gabriel". Colorado Judicial Branch. State of Colorado. 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Lewis, Keith (September 18, 2015). "The Docket Sits Down with Newly Appointed Supreme Court Justice Richard Gabriel". The Docket. Denver Bar Association. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  3. ^ Goodland, Marianne (June 23, 2015). "What you should know about Colorado's new Supreme Court judge". The Colorado Independent. Denver. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "State Court of Appeals Judge Richard L. Gabriel". Daily Camera. Boulder, Colorado. October 7, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "Gov. Ritter Names Three to Court of Appeals" (PDF). Office of Gov. Bill Ritter. State of Colorado. May 1, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Gessler, Scott (2010). "2010 Abstract of Votes Cast" (PDF). Office of Secretary of State. State of Colorado. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  7. ^ Harden, Mark (March 20, 2015). "Colorado Supreme Court justice to retire". Denver Business Journal. Denver. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Mendoza, Monica (June 24, 2015). "Judge Richard Gabriel is Hickenlooper's pick for Colorado Supreme Court". Denver Business Journal. Denver. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Bartels, Lynn; Nussbaum, Matthew (June 23, 2015). "Gov. Hickenlooper appoints Richard Gabriel to Colorado Supreme Court". The Denver Post. Denver. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  10. ^ Note, Recent Case: Colorado Supreme Court Holds that Aggregate Term-of-Years Sentences Can Never Implicate Eighth Amendment Restrictions on Juvenile Life Without Parole, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 1187 (2018).
  11. ^ Lucero v. People, 394 P.3d 1128 (Colo. 2017).
  12. ^ "Methods of Judicial Selection: Colorado". National Center for State Courts. American Judicature Society. 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Gregory J. Hobbs Jr.
Associate Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court