The Honorable Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., (1944 - 2021)
The Honorable Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., former Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence at the Sturm College of Law, former Co-Director of the law school’s Environmental & Natural Resources Law Program, and one of the nation’s most learned and respected experts in water law, passed away November 30, 2021, at the age of 76.
After earning his BA degree in history from the University of Notre Dame, the future Justice Hobbs attended Columbia University to study Latin American history, before electing to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia. Upon returning to the United States, he earned his law degree from Berkeley Law, serving as Supreme Court Editor of the California Law Review. Thereafter, he clerked for The Honorable William Edward Doyle on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver. After completing his clerkship, he worked as an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, where he became a partner in 1979. In 1992, he formed the law firm of Hobbs, Trout and Raley, specializing in water law.
In 1996, Governor Roy Romer appointed Justice Hobbs to the Colorado Supreme Court, where he emerged as one of the nation’s leading experts on water law and as a staunch defender of the prior appropriation doctrine. During his nearly two decades on the bench, he authored more than 250 majority opinions, distinguished by their principled reasoning and careful draftsmanship. A teacher and mentor at heart, he also played a transformative role in the careers of the five dozen law clerks who had the privilege of working with him at the Court, supporting their own careers in public service, forging a strong community amongst them, and treating them as extended members of his family. Justice Hobbs’ influence extended well beyond the courtroom or his chambers. A committed advocate for expanded access to justice, he served for many years as the Court’s liaison to the Colorado Access to Justice Commission. He also engaged actively and honestly with our state’s legacy of conquest, serving as a member of the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission.
Upon his retirement from the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015, he joined the Sturm College of Law, teaching courses in water law and Colorado legal history, contributing to our nationally recognized Environmental & Natural Resources Law Program, advising the editors of the University of Denver Water Law Review, contributing his talent and vision to the Tribal Wills Project, and mentoring scores of current and future water lawyers. Befitting his immense intellectual range and considerable energies, he continued to serve the Colorado Judicial Department as a senior water judge; engage the public on water-related issues – including through Water Education Colorado, which he helped found in 2002; publish poetry emphasizing our complex and fragile connection to the natural world; and lovingly photograph the waters of the Mountain West, from the majestic Colorado River, to its lesser tributaries, to other more humble – but no less meaningful – streams and irrigation ditches.
There will be a celebration of Justice Hobbs’ life and legacy at a later date, with details provided to our community when they become available. Our thoughts are with Justice Hobbs’ wife, Bobbie, and two children – Dan and Emily – at this difficult time.