Karla M. Gray

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Karla M. Gray (born May 10, 1947) is an American attorney and judge who served as the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court; she was the first woman elected to that position.

Gray was born in Escanaba, Michigan. She attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo from 1965–1970, earning a B.A. and an M.A. in African history. She then moved to California, working as a clerk matron at the Mountain View Police Department. She received a J.D. in 1976 from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, where she was an editor of the Hastings Law Review. After law school, she moved to Butte, Montana, where she served as a law clerk for Senior United States District Court Judge William Daniel Murray.

After her clerkship ended in 1977, Gray practiced law as in-house corporate counsel and in a solo practice. During the 1980s, she was a lobbyist at the Montana Legislature, representing the power industry and trial lawyers.

Governor Stan Stephens appointed Gray as an Associate Justice of the Montana Supreme Court in 1991, following the resignation of Diane Barz. Barz had been the first woman to serve on the court; Gray then became the second. Gray won election as an Associate Justice in 1992 and again in 1998. She subsequently became the first woman to be elected Chief Justice in 2000, defeating fellow sitting Justice Terry N. Trieweiler by 8,800 votes out of approximately 387,000 cast. Justice Gray retired from the bench in 2008.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Karla Gray". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  2. ^ McKee, Jennifer (December 31, 2008). "First Female Chief Justice of Montana Supreme Court Retires". Montana Standard. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ Thackeray, Lorna (December 23, 2010). "U.S. District Judge Molloy to Step Aside". Helena Independent Record. Retrieved August 27, 2011.