Judge Noma Gurich did not come from a family of lawyers. In fact, she never even met a lawyer until she took a student assistant job with a political science professor at Indiana State University.
She worked for the professor, W.I. Matthews, who was also the pre- law adviser, for three and a half years.
He taught me about the law, and he is the one who is responsible for my decision to go to law school, Gurich said.
After graduating with honors from Indiana State University, Gurich went on to obtain her law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She began her legal career as an associate attorney with Cheek, Cheek & Cheek. In 1982, she joined the Abowitz & Welch law firm as an associate attorney and was later named a partner. She then served as a judge of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court for 10 years before being named a district judge of the Oklahoma County District Court, where she was presiding judge in 2003-'04.
She is the first woman to have served the state as the presiding judge of two separate and distinct trial courts as well as the first person to have served both the Oklahoma County District Court and the Workers' Compensation Court as the presiding judge.
I have presided over more than 120 civil and criminal jury trials since I have been on the Oklahoma County trial bench, said Gurich, who is a frequent speaker and panelist for continuing legal and insurance education programs.
Gurich is a member of the American Bar Association and Oklahoma County Bar Association. She currently chairs a subcommittee of the Oklahoma Bar Association's Bench and Bar Committee. She also is a member of the Oklahoma Trial Judges Association and a life member of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference.
Her civic and nonprofit affiliations include the Kiwanis Club of Oklahoma City, where she is only the second woman to be selected as president-elect of the group in its 87 years of existence. She also is a member of the Application Screening Committee for the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and serves on the board of trustees for the Oklahoma Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. A life member of the OU College of Law Association Alumni and Indiana State University Alumni associations, she is also active with the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, St. Luke's United Methodist Church and the Salvation Army.
Gurich said her most significant personal accomplishment is her work in the Russian mission field of the United Methodist Church where she has assisted in medical missions, helped with Bible school for children, participated in Bible studies and worship services and given financial and spiritual support.
She believes in the servant leader philosophy - that one can lead most effectively by being a good example - and has always focused on being part of the solution and not part of the problem.
My parents always encouraged me to work hard, do my best and be kind to others. Although, as a female growing up in the '50s, '60s and '70s, I encountered solutions where opportunities were restricted to men only, my family always wanted me to believe that I could do anything that I set my mind to do, Gurich said.
My goal as a judge and as a human being is to be fair and treat all people with the same respect and dignity. As professor Matthews put it, 'you either believe in equality or you don't.'
Birthplace: South Bend, Ind.
Spouse: John E. Miley
First job: Taught private lessons to grade-school age kids on the clarinet while she was in high school.
Dream job: Being a judge is a job that I always hoped to get. It would be great to be on the U.S. Supreme Court!
Pets: I love cats. I currently have two house cats - Dante who is almost 18 (he lost his brother and lifelong companion, Mookie about a year ago) and Joey who is 12. We also feed a stray black cat which we have named Boo.
Hobbies: Travel, gardening and sewing
Favorite type of food: Seafood
Favorite type of music: Rock and roll, jazz and country
Favorite vacation spot: I love to travel so I have many favorite trips. One of my favorite places was the island of Santorini in Greece. I also loved Athens. The Aegean Sea is the most beautiful blue color!
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