In January 2006, Justice O'Leary received the Franklin G. West Award, the Orange County Bar Association's highest honor. This award is presented each year to an outstanding attorney or judge whose lifetime achievements have advanced justice and the law.
Throughout her judicial career, Justice O'Leary has been active in judicial and law-related education efforts. She is a past member and past chair of the Governing Committee of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER). She has consistently worked to improve the administration of justice through comprehensive and quality education and training for judicial officers and other judicial branch personnel. In addition to teaching a number of courses for California judicial officers, judicial branch staff, law enforcement and lawyers, she has taught courses for the judiciary of sister states, the National Center for State Courts, and the National Judicial College. In 2003, Justice O'Leary was presented with the Bernard S. Jefferson Award for Distinguished Service in Judicial Education by the California Judges Association.
Justice O'Leary has served by appointment of the Chief Justice as a member of the Judicial Council of California, the constitutionally mandated body responsible for improving the administration of justice in California, on a number of its advisory committees, and on numerous Judicial Council task forces. Justice O'Leary's contributions to judicial administration were recognized by the Judicial Council when she was named Jurist of the Year in 1999.
Prior to her appointment to the appellate court, Justice O'Leary served on the Orange County Superior Court. She was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court on July 1, 1986, by Governor George Deukmejian, and was in her third term as the Presiding Judge of that court when elevated to the Court of Appeal. Justice O'Leary began her judicial career at the West Orange County Municipal Court in 1981, where she also served both as the Presiding Judge and the Assistant Presiding Judge.
Justice O'Leary attended Marymount College at Loyola University, now Loyola Marymount University and received her juris doctorate degree from Southwestern University School of Law.
Justice O'Leary and her husband reside in Orange County.