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Colorado judge who oversaw Oklahoma City bombing trial in Denver dies at 88

Posted at 1:32 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 15:32:59-04

DENVER – U.S. District Court Judge Richard P. Matsch, who oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing trial in his Denver courtroom, has died at the age of 88, the federal court announced late Monday.

Matsch was appointed to the federal bench for the District of Colorado in 1974 by President Richard Nixon. According to the Denver Post, Matsch handled several high-profile case during his 45-year career, including some cases involving the desegregation of Denver schools and the 1987 trial of four men accused of killing Denver talk show host Alan Berg.

US District Court Judge Richard Matsch
US District Court Judge Richard Matsch (Photo: 1997)

The country and the world would turn their focus to Matsch as he presided over the Oklahoma City bombing trials.

The senior judge died Monday, a spokesperson for the federal court said in a prepared statement.

“Judge Matsch will be remembered for the way that he handled the Oklahoma City bombing cases, reaffirming the public’s faith in our judicial system through his firmness, fairness, and dignity during a particularly wrenching episode in our nation’s history,” said Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer. “He was everything a judge should be – a legal scholar, a leader of the court, and a compassionate guardian of the rule of law. We have lost a judicial hero.”

Matsch was chief judge for the District of Colorado from 1994 to 200. In 2003, he began serving as senior judge and continued to oversee some cases while semi-retired, the Post reports.

Born in Burlington, Iowa, Matsch earned his law degree from the University of Michigan and served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955, including service in Korea. Before his appointment as a federal judge, Matsch worked as a deputy city attorney for the City and County of Denver and as a federal bankruptcy judge.