Law Professor And Leading Gay Rights Advocate Dies In Apparent Suicide

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Chapman Law Professor Mary Katherine Baird Darmer, 47, a leading proponent for protections of gay and lesbian citizens. Darmer died in a six-story fall from a parking garage that was believed to be a suicide. She leaves a husband and at least one child.

Darmer was a founding member of the Orange County Equality Coalition to fight for the rights of gays and lesbians after the passage of Proposition 8. She often gave legal commentary.

Professor Darmer received her A.B. from Princeton University, with high honors, and her Juris Doctor from Columbia University, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar for two years and served as Articles Editor of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. She then clerked for the Honorable Kimba M. Wood in the Southern District of New York and the Honorable William H. Timbers on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

She was a clearly talented and caring individual who dedicated her life to the rights of others. I have no idea what drove her to allegedly commit suicide but she leaves behind a remarkable legacy. My condolences to her family, her colleagues, and the Chapman legal community.

Here is Professor Darmer discussing torture:

Source: LA Times

59 thoughts on “Law Professor And Leading Gay Rights Advocate Dies In Apparent Suicide”

  1. Due to the recent visitations I wonder if this blog has been placed on the religious nuts (note I said NUTS) list corresponding to “Places to attack today”.

  2. Thank you, Elisha. Now back to reality.
    For those of you interested in a detour/ramble; here’s one exploring the results of a new NC commission charged with reviewing guilty cases passing a preliminary selection process. So far 4 out of 1000+ applicants have been reviewed, whereof 3 found innnocent. The DA’s don’t like it.

    Here’s the link, see especially the comments of which I excerpt part of one.
    The editorial article is just cinnamon on toasted bread topped with warm milk.

    Excerpt from Pensive01:

    Actually I know there is a great deal of difference between a not guilty because of a reasonable doubt and actually being declared innocent. I also know that it is the job of investigators and forensic scientists to find and examine evidence, and that is something the Commision is not stopping anyone from doing. I also understand that in the course of an investigation there can be more then one suspect, but I also know that in the course of the investigation that suspects are removed from consideration because of such things as there not being evidence linking them to the crime. If Deaver had followed the law, then it is quite likely that Greg Taylor would have been ruled out as a suspect, as it requires more then just being near a crime scene, to be convicted of commiting that crime. Deaver thought he was guilty, he lied in court and Taylor was convicted. What you seem to be failing to understand is that Taylor wasn’t released because of some technicality, like evidence that was found and got ruled inadmissible. He was released because he was convicted because of evidence that didn’t exist. He was declared innocent because he shouldn’t have been on trial in the first place, as the only evidence they had was the evidence that Deaver said was there. The evidence Deaver perjured himself over by saying it was blood when he knew it was not. I would even go as far as saying that Deaver’s testimony could be consider as obstruction, since investigators tend to stop looking for a killer if they think they have the one who commited the crime already
    End excerpt.

    Not so incidentally, the innocent declared, named above, appears commenting on his own behalf in defense ot the new commission.

    Read more here:

  3. Elisha,

    Before Anyone else has the opportunity to tell you to go fuck yourself….consider it done….

  4. Another supported of the sodomite damned has been judged and thrown into hell by the Lord God Almighty. May all of the wicked sodomites take note of God’s fierce judgment and repent of your wickedness.

  5. Success is not an indicator of happiness and it is entirely plausible she committed suicide…but on the other hand, what information do they have to rule out an accident or homocide?

    Being a gay rights advocate, she might have peeved the wrong people off?

  6. I prefer the cop line:
    Was her car parked there? Her usual spot? Where are her car keys? Was it according to her usual daily routine? What was on her calender? Who saw her last? Where was her husband? How had she appeared earlier? etc.etc.
    Routines should be followed here.

  7. You never know what goes on in people’s heads even the apparently successful. I have no idea if this is suicide or accident or even worse but her legacy seems not to be defined by her exit.

  8. Frankly and AY,

    I did not say it was impossible. But I hope the authorities are looking further because it (from this article and my lack of further knowledge)….is not the norm.

    There is too much future to ever give in to the past…the act of suicide is the ultimate cop-out.

    And too sadly final…

  9. Anonomously…

    Wootsy is right about the manner of suicide. Women kill themselves regularly, but not in this way. Women who are socially isolated are far more likely to commit suicide than someone like this with a dense social network. People who kill themselves tend to view their life as pointless, which her prior activities seem to rule out. Clinically depressed people aren’t very active, by definition.

    Bucking one statistical average is not the norm, but it does happen. Going against three is strong cause for questioning the assumption. She may have been offed. She may have recently been diagnosed with cancer. She may have had an undiagnosed brain tumor.

  10. I second eniobob’s second as this may be, as Bette Noir suggested, a terrible, terrible accident.

  11. Wootsy…..

    Unless you’ve been there….talk not much or speak not often…… You don’t know what you’d do…. Just saying from an experienced one…..

  12. I have fought this demon most of my life and I am sure if I ever lost the battle many people would be stunned. Its a hideous monster that lives in your brain, whispering ugly things in your ear. It can own anyone.

    While it won’t make it any easier for her family I hope it wasn’t a suicide.

  13. It is really rare for a woman to take thier own life in this manner. And suicide is a very ugly thing to do to people who care about you…so I would really question the conclusion that someone who appears so aware and involved in social issues to respond to a personal crisis in this fashion.

    Such a waste!

  14. “A Chapman University law professor who died after falling from a building may have committed suicide, authorities said Monday.”

    “Orange County Supervising Deputy Coroner Daniel Aikin said “preliminary findings” indicated that Mary Katherine Baird Darmer, 47, took her own life Friday. But an autopsy is still pending and “our investigations are not complete yet,” Aikin said. An official cause of death has not been determined, authorities said.” (both quotes from the LA Times)

    Best to wait for the coroner’s findings…

  15. In the absence of a note, I don’t think we should rule out the possibility of a horrible, horrible accident.

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