Betty Fletcher Dies at 89, Liberal U.S. Appeals Judge

    October 24, 2012

Today, we mourn the loss of Betty Fletcher, a great and faithful servant to San Francisco’s Court of Appeals (Ninth District), who died yesterday (Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012).

Prior to her involvement with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Fletcher started as a practicing lawyer in 1956 at Preston, Gates, and Ellis, a small private practice firm in Seattle, WA, then later progressed to the firm of Preston, Gates, and Ellis, where she became a partner of the firm. This was a big milestone for Fletcher, because this rendered her now as the first woman to become a partner at a major law firm (in the pacific northwest region).

During her time in practice at these firms, Fletcher became an active member of the Washington State Bar Association, and also served as the first female president of the Seattle’s King County Bar Association (1972-1973).

In July of 1979, Fletcher was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then was confirmed and started her seat in September of the same year. During Fletcher’s appointment, she tried a wide range of cases, such as:

  • Employment discrimination
  • Water rights
  • Export restrictions on cryptography
  • Obscenity on the Internet
  • Sexual orientation discrimination

In 1998, Fletcher designated herself as senior status (a form of semi-retirement for federal judges), and William A. Fletcher (her son) joined the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after her decision.

On Tuesday, October 23rd of 2012, Betty Fletcher passed away at the age of 89; however, the cause of her death is unknown at this time. Various supporters of Fletcher have left their condolences via Twitter: