In 1978, Christine M. Durham was appointed, in a historic moment, to serve as trial judge to the third judicial district court in the state of Utah by then Governor Scott Matheson. Lost in the appropriate fanfare connected to her groundbreaking appointment as the first woman to serve as a general jurisdiction judge in the state of Utah, was the fact that she would also become the youngest person ever appointed to a judicial post in that great state. Just four years later, this young thirty-something female judge would be elevated by Matheson to sit on the Supreme Court of the State of Utah, marking the first time that a woman had ever been selected to sit on Utah’s highest court. In truth, at that time, Justice Durham joined just a tiny cadre of female jurists that had been elected or appointed to sit on their state’s highest courts. It wasn’t until 1981 that Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to sit on the United States Supreme Court as the first female member of that Court.
Thus, as one of “the firsts,” Justice Durham embarked upon a remarkable career that has for more than thirty years represented trails blazed, spaces pioneered, and extraordinary examples imparted.
andré douglas pond cummings, Chief Justice Christine M. Durham: Trailblazer, Pioneer, Exemplar, 75 Alb. L. Rev. 1657, 1657 (2012).