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. I don’t know whose links or excerpts depress me the most today.

    Lots of candidates I would thank for showing us what MSM doesn’t want to, or what MSM mistakenly shows itself to be.

    No names, you know who you are. And such different angles too.

    Bedtime. I’ll read your posts while you’re still sleeping tomorrow.

  2. idealist,

    No worries, as a good friend of mine often says… 😉

    And I’m very sorry about your wife, idealist.

  3. Her husband works at Jones Day. The family will get the best investigation possible if it is warranted. We do have a two tiered legal system and they are in the elite of the elite.

  4. SwM.

    I can’t understand all this “success” with “failure” as motives for suicide. Is this common among the successful? Certainly the threat of exposure for moral turpitude (?) would suffice. As also might mental exhaustion, although there depression does not usually follow the burnout.

    If if’s worth your consideration, please expand this idea.

  5. OS,

    Life does go on for the living….sometimes it even goes on for you the ones that no longer wish to live…..then one must make a choice….. And sometimes the only choice that the person can make is what is considered by others as irrational….. Albert ellis comes to mind…….

  6. On being here:

    Generally some folks are obviously way above the clouds (Olympians), so I mostly see only their asses, ie their eventual IMHO mistakes.
    So the perspective from so far below, also prevents me from seeing all the lightning streaming out of their heads. The view is still impressive.
    No one mentioned, no one forgotten.

  7. Anon nurse. Well said.

    I know the Mississippi pathologist in question. He also missed the fact that a college coed who was murdered in Oxford, MS was pregnant. On another case, he insisted the deceased man had committed suicide because he claimed to have found the impression of the accelerator pedal on the mans shoe sole which meant, to him, that the guy was pressing on the accelerator at the time of impact. I testified in that particular case as an expert on ‘psychological autopsy’ and was able to determine conclusively, and to the satisfaction of a Federal District Court, that the man fell asleep at the wheel and hit a tree.

    Needless to say, if anyone asks my opinion, I would not let that pathologist autopsy road kill, let alone a crime victim.

  8. Ms Darmer previously worked at Davis Polk Wardwell, the “Tiffanys” of corporate law practice. .Her husband works at Jones Day, another elite corporate firm. If an investigation is warranted it will happen. Suicide does not discriminate. A woman recently jumped from a parking garage in Dallas. She did not die but she broke all her bones. Many people that appear to have it all end up committing suicide.

  9. AN,
    My apologies. I am too too cute at times.
    You, many posts back, had expressed appreciation for the diversity of ideas here. I was only saying: me too.
    And being paranoid I thought I might get called down by BobEsq and raced to defend myself before the accusation was delivered (if ever it would be).

    I will try to stop competing in obscure references to that which occurs and especially that which might occur.

    Hope that helps. Thanks for the kind phrasing of your inquiry.
    I’ll learn to talk normal someday.

  10. I have dealt w/people who are trying to get over the suicides of people near to them. It is not pretty and is some of the worst grief and misplaced guilt I have ever witnessed.

    I think the most important thing that anyone can do to help a person who may be thinking of it is to have the conversation….be kind but painfully(to you!) blunt nd ask if they are or have thought of committing suicide. Ask if they have a plan. Call professional help fo back-up. If they have a plan don’t waste time…call 911. Get them information and stress that it is not a solution. Call friends and take turns sitting with….

    I have been to hell and back and the one thing I’ve learned is that there is a way back. Let them know that.

    That’s all.

  11. “In a joint reporting effort, ProPublica, PBS “Frontline” and NPR spent a year looking at the nation’s 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices and found a deeply dysfunctional system that quite literally buries its mistakes.” -from the following story/link

    “The Real ‘CSI’: How America’s Patchwork System of Death Investigations Puts the Living at Risk”

    by A.C. Thompson, Mosi Secret, Lowell Bergman and Sandra Bartlett Feb. 1, 2011


    Blunders by doctors in America’s morgues have put innocent people in prison cells, allowed the guilty to go free, and left some cases so muddled that prosecutors could do nothing.

    In Mississippi, a physician’s errors in two autopsies helped convict a pair of innocent men, sending them to prison for more than a decade.

    The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office has cremated a corpse before police could determine if the person had been murdered; misplaced bones; and lost track of at least five bodies.

    Late last year, a doctor in a suburb of Detroit autopsied the body of a bank executive pulled from a lake — and managed to miss the bullet hole in his neck and the bullet lodged in his jaw.

    “I thought it was a superficial autopsy,” said David Balash, a forensic science consultant and former Michigan state trooper hired by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department to evaluate the case. “You see a lot of these kinds of things, unfortunately.”

    More than 1 in 5 physicians working in the country’s busiest morgues — including the chief medical examiner of Washington, D.C. — are not board certified in forensic pathology, the branch of medicine focused on the mechanics of death, our investigation found. Experts say such certification ensures that doctors have at least a basic understanding of the science, and it should be required for practitioners employed by coroner and medical examiner offices.

    Yet, because of an extreme shortage of forensic pathologists — the country has fewer than half the specialists it needs, a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded — even physicians who flunk their board exams find jobs in the field. Uncertified doctors who have failed the exam are employed by county offices in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California, officials in those states acknowledged. Two of the six doctors in Arkansas’ state medical examiner’s office have failed the test, according to the agency’s top doctor.

    (End of excerpt)

  12. AN,
    As to divergency, you are so right. But then comes the question from BobEsq or other learned: “Within what limíts is diversity allowed? And on what basis?”
    Thank goodness, such as he ignore my inputs. And as said, well that.

  13. Indeed, I did not say Elisha, having thanked him in my previous post, I assumed the inference was clear. And being a bit paranoid myself, I should have known somebody would be feeling sensitive today.

    And Dredd, I do appreciate you and your knowledge, and our sharing like most folks certain idiosyncracies, ie human attributes.
    Just to show my admiration and humility (seriously now) what is meant by
    “apparent suicide”. I don’t get it. ( My clashing with you is my nature, not yours.)

    As for the poor woman, how sad. I was disturbed by the rapid assent to it being suicide. Certain sudden deaths are disturbing that way. ´ Natural death by asthma=murder by caustic soda forced inhalation, for example.

  14. AY,

    She thought: …limited as it is… 😉
    She said: You’re welcome, AY.

    (It’s one crazy, screwed up world, but we have to keep fighting the good fight while we can… I thank you for your insights, as well, AY. I so appreciate the diverse perspectives on this blog… I’ve learned a lot here.)

  15. Very nicely said, mespo.

    And a third vote to follow yours, Gene H. regarding the… searching for the appropriate adjective… Elisha.

    (Given her work in NY, I have to wonder if her past might have caught up with her. (From the LA Times: “Before joining the faculty full time at Chapman in 2000, she served as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she prosecuted public corruption, violent gang and narcotics cases.” But then I think about what mespo said… and we’ll probably never know.. Better to focus on the good…))

  16. Dredd,

    I don’t think id707 was referring to you as a religious nut but rather the anti-sodomy homophobic ravings of Elisha – to whom I’d like to second the well-wishes anonymously administered above..

    Most of us think you’re a totally different kind of nut, Dredd. 😀 Plus, you very rarely attack. Which is so unlike you. You’ve changed so much since your days in Mega-City One law enforcement.

  17. idealist707 1, February 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    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”.
    You make me so happy sometimes, I did not receive the call to troll the innertubes for heretics.

    I am not a “religious nut”. You are so kind to me.

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