Published: Feb. 22, 2023

It is with heavy hearts that we share news of the passing of Judge Kristy Martinez, who served as the first full-time director of the University of Colorado Law School’s Korey Wise Innocence Project and then on the Boulder County Court following her appointment by then-Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in 2019. Judge Martinez passed away on Tuesday, February 21, 2023.

Judge Kristy Martinez"We at the University of Colorado Law School are very much saddened by the death of Judge Kristy Martinez,” said law school Dean Lolita Buckner Inniss. “She was a valued and admired member of the CU Law family during her time here as director of the Korey Wise Innocence Project, and was also highly esteemed well beyond the law school. She touched the lives of many, and will be greatly missed."

During her tenure on the Boulder County Court, Judge Martinez was known for her integrity, fairness, and commitment to justice. She presided over cases with a deep sense of compassion and respect for all those who appeared before her. As a law professor and the first director of the Korey Wise Innocence Project, she fought tirelessly for the rights of the wrongfully convicted and to serve as an extraordinary teacher and mentor to the many students she impacted.

“Judge Martinez played a key role in establishing the Korey Wise Innocence Project, and her leadership and dedication were unparalleled. She was fierce as an advocate for her clients and a warm, engaged mentor to her students,” remarked Professor Ann England, faculty director of the Korey Wise Innocence Project. “I’ll never forget her big laugh, obsessive love for ice cream, and endearing stories about growing up with her grandmother teaching her to fish and hunt with a bow. The world is a sadder place without her.”

Judge Martinez attended the University of Denver, receiving a B.A. in Human Communication in 1995 and her Juris Doctorate Degree in 1999. Judge Martinez began her litigation career as a Deputy District Attorney in Adams County, Colorado. In 2002, Judge Martinez established a criminal defense practice representing indigent clients at trial, on appeal and during post-conviction review. Beginning in September 2015, Judge Martinez became the director of the Korey Wise Innocence Project and served in that capacity until she took the bench. In 2019, University of Colorado Law awarded Judge Martinez the honorary Order of the Coif for her outstanding contribution to the legal profession.

The University of Colorado Law School extends its deepest condolences to Judge Martinez's family, friends, and colleagues during this time. The Boulder County Bar welcomes remembrances of Judge Martinez.

Details about a celebration of life will be forthcoming.