David Gormley ’87: He Has Argued Before the Supreme Court

David Gormley ThenDavid joined the fraternity during his freshman year in 1984 and he lived in the house until he graduated in 1987. Although the house was already showing its age during those years, it was a great place to live. David made some wonderful friends in the fraternity and enjoyed those years immensely. 

His first roommate in the house was John Heathfield ’86. John kept David laughing, was a great study partner and became a lifelong friend. During his second year, David lived with Bill McGarry ’87, who David fondly remembers as always being a courteous roommate and with whom he engaged in many thought-provoking discussions. 

For his final year, David opted to live solo in a single room on the first floor. He remembers greatly appreciating visitors whenever they dropped by, but he also liked being able to shoo them away when he was ready to crash for the night.   

The best part of every day was the dinner hour. All of the brothers would gather together and talk about the world and its problems. When they didn’t feel like eating at home, pizza or Arby’s outings were a favorite remedy, as were trips for late-night munchies at White Castle.

Other than the joys of day-to-day life at the house, some of the best memories of David’s DX days were serenading various sororities and the fun parties that the brothers hosted in the house. One of his funniest memories concerns the DX “coffin parties.” Although he doesn’t recall ever falling victim to that kind of party himself, he remembers some odd things happening with paint and rope to those brothers who weren’t so fortunate. 

Although it can be easy to lose touch after graduation, David has stayed in touch with Patrick Cheung ’84, Scott Imlach ’90, Doug Godbold ’86, Kin Cheung ’85, Jon Meyer ’87, Darius Fadanelli ’89Eric Popp ’88, Nick Markus ’87, and John Heathfield ’86. Nick, John and David have traveled together, and they gather nearly every fall to watch a game at Michigan Stadium.

David is grateful that he was able to find a small fraternity house where he could feel at home on a big campus. Some of the most enduring friendships of his life resulted from his Michigan years. The fraternity experience taught him a lot about the joys and challenges of reaching a consensus among — and working collaboratively with — a group of more than 20 people, some of whom were from different backgrounds or had different interests from his own.

David majored in political science at Michigan, and he graduated summa cum laude in 1987.  After his days at UM came to an end, he attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA, and graduated from there in 1990.

After law school, he spent one year in Grand Rapids, MI, working as a law clerk for a federal judge. Chicago was his next stop, where he worked at a large law firm for a couple of years before returning to his native state of Ohio in 1993.

Since that final move, he has lived in Delaware County, Ohio, which is just north of Columbus.  He has served as an assistant prosecutor, as the state solicitor of Ohio in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and as the legal counsel for the Supreme Court of Ohio. 

After those various jobs, David served for seven years as a judge on the Delaware Municipal Court before he was elected in November 2014 to his current job as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County.  In that post, he presides over both civil cases and felony criminal cases.

In his free time, David enjoys traveling in both the U.S. and overseas, including a fascinating week in Cuba last year. When he isn’t traveling, he stays busy by serving on the board of directors of his local Michigan alumni club, visiting his 89-year-old mother one weekend every month, seeing lots of movies, working out regularly at the gym, reading voraciously, meeting friends for dinner and happy hour, attending weekly Rotary Club lunches, donating time to various community service projects, baking pies and other sweets for a monthly dinner party with friends, and attending art museum events in Columbus.

He cites the reputation that he has built as a talented lawyer and a smart and hard-working trial judge as one of his biggest successes and he is proud to have made a difference in his community by connecting many drug-addicted and mentally ill persons with the treatment services that they need while imposing appropriate punishment on other persons whose actions earned them some time in prison or the county jail. David also takes pride in the fact that he has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court when he was a young lawyer in his 30s, which is an experience that he’ll always remember fondly, even though he didn’t win the case.

David tries hard to learn from every experience, whether good or bad. He hopes that every year he is becoming a better judge, a better friend, and a better role model for others.

David urges the young men of Delta Chi to do as well as they possibly can in school. Academic success at a great university like Michigan can open so many doors in the years ahead. He has found that very little of what matters in life is clearly black or white and that there is rarely only one answer to a question or a problem. Those who succeed are the people who work well with others, are flexible rather than unbending, and have learned the skill of thinking creatively so that they can come up with solutions that others haven’t even envisioned.

In 50 years, David hopes that he is remembered as a caring and compassionate judge who served honestly and diligently and whose efforts left his community at least slightly better off than before he took the bench. He also hopes that those who knew him will recall that he laughed a lot, was a good listener, was a trusted friend who didn’t take himself too seriously, and that he held true to the all-American values that were instilled in him by his parents.