On Monday, authorities said that a professor from Chapman University might have committed suicide. The professor of law fell from a building to her death. Daniel Aikin, the Supervising Deputy Coroner for Orange County, said that early investigations have found that Mary Katherine Baird Darmer most likely committed suicide on Friday. Aikin said that results from an autopsy are still pending and are incomplete. Authorities also said that a cause of death has not been determined either. On Friday at 11:30 a.m., Darmer fell off a parking garage on MacArthur Boulevard in Irvine.
Darmer worked in criminal procedure, according to her profile on the Chapman University School of Law’s website. She had been a full-time faculty member at the school since 2000. Prior to that she worked as an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. While working as an assistant district attorney, Darmer prosecuted cases involving gangs, corruption in the public sector and narcotics.
According to her profile on the website, Darmer acquired her A.B. from Princeton University and her juris doctor from Columbia University. While working in the Southern District of New York, Darmer was a clerk for Honorable Kimba M. Wood and Honorable William H. Timbers from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Darmer also worked as an associate within the litigation practice of Davis Polk & Wardwell prior to her clerk jobs and her U.S. attorney job.
Darmer was the founder of the Orange County Equality Coalition and was recognized as a gay right advocate. She created the organization after Proposition 8 was created. Darmer repeatedly offered media commentaries regarding the war on terror and equality of marriage. Darmer was admired by colleagues, friends, and acquaintances alike. Hundreds upon hundreds of comments were left on Facebook pages and public forum websites about Darmer.
“Katherine was a truly wonderful person,” wrote Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine Law School. “She was a terrific teacher and scholar and a deeply committed activist who used her knowledge to make a real difference. Most of all, she was a terrific human being.”
One of Darmer’s former students, Tom Vogele, said he was touched and inspired by Darmer.
“She pushed me to be a more insightful student and better listener, something I know makes me a better advocate,” Vogele wrote.
Darmer was married to Roman Ernest Darmer II, who works as a partner with Jones Day, which is an international law firm that has an office in Irvine.