October 31, 2014

Chief Justice Bender Makes Final Four Appointments to Colorado Reapportionment Commission

On Wednesday, Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael L. Bender named his four appointments to the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, completing the eleven-member commission.

The Reapportionment Commission consists of eleven members, pursuant to the Colorado Constitution. The Senate Majority Leader, House Speaker, Senate Minority Leader, and House Minority Leader have all agreed to serve on the commission or have designated someone else to serve on the commission. The Governor appointed three members to the commission last week. And now, Chief Justice Bender has appointed the final four members.

Chief Justice Bender appointed the following individuals to the commission:

  • Dolores S. Atencio – A Democrat from Denver in the First Congressional District. Atencio is a partner at Garcia Calderon Ruiz, LLP, and practices litigation and employment law.
  • Mario M. Carrera – An unaffiliated voter from Parker in the Sixth Congressional District. Carrera is the vice president and general manager of Entravision Communications Corporation.
  • Robert D. Loevy – A Republican from Colorado Springs in the Fifth Congressional District. Loevy is a professor of political science and American government at Colorado College.
  • Steve Tool – A Republican from Windsor in the Fourth Congressional District.  Tool is a former state legislator where he served on the Joint Budget Committee.

Last week, Governor John Hickenlooper named his three appointments to the commission:

  • Gayle A. Berry - A Republican from Grand Junction in the Third Congressional District. Berry is a former state legislator.
  • Wellington Webb – A Democrat from Denver in the First Congressional District. Webb is a former Mayor of Denver.
  • Arnold Salazar – A Democrat from Alamosa in the Third Congressional District.

The Colorado Reapportionment Commission will work collaboratively to reset the borders of the state’s legislative districts.  This is separate from the redistricting work going on in the General Assembly to redraw the state’s Congressional districts. Additional information on the Colorado Reapportionment Commission is available here.

Kiowa County Combined Courts Change Hours of Operation

The hours of operation at the Kiowa County Combined Courts in Eads, Colorado, have changed, effective immediately.

The court offices will be open Monday through Thursday, 8 am to noon and 12:30 to 4:30 pm. Offices will be closed on Fridays.

Questions about the change may be directed to Clerk of Court Robyn Dunham at (719) 438-5558 or District Administrator Caren Stanley at (719) 336-7424.

The Life of the Criminal Defense Attorney in the Spotlight for Law Day

When Saskia Jordan’s daughter was in third grade, she drew a picture of her mom, showing what she does for a living. Jordan didn’t see it until she went into her daughter’s classroom.

“She had drawn a picture and said my mom helps people who are in trouble stay out of jail,” Jordan recalled. “I thought that’s pretty good. … It’s simplistic but it was accurate.”

Jordan is a former public defender who now represents clients in criminal cases, complex civil litigation, and regulatory matters as a shareholder at Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, P.C. She was the keynote speaker at the Denver Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Law Day Luncheon on May 3.

However, she hadn’t planned to be speaking that day; her colleague, Pamela Robillard Mackey, had agreed to speak, but fittingly, she was awaiting the decision of a jury trial and was unable to attend.

“The last email I got was ‘jury still out, please go give my speech,’ at about 11 a.m. this morning,” Jordan said smiling.

This year’s Law Day theme is “The Legacy of John Adams, from Boston to Guantanamo.” That got Jordan thinking about her work as a criminal defense attorney and the most common question she gets about her line of work: how can you represent someone who’s committed a terrible crime?

“Still to this day I don’t like the question, I don’t really understand the question and I guess that’s because I don’t think it’s the right question,” Jordan said. “Shouldn’t the question be how does it feel to uphold the presumption of innocence, to require the prosecution to meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, to make sure that the defendant has a competent lawyer and a fair trial? That’s how I view what I do and I have always taken great pride in doing it. It has always been a very meaningful experience to me.”

Much of Jordan’s speech touched on the importance of juries and the role they play in the legal system.

“I have huge faith in juries,” Jordan said. “I think in more than nine out of 10 times, juries reach an accurate, correct, just verdict.

Jordan has had her share of high-profile criminal cases. She and Mackey represented Vincent Margera—better known as Don Vito, the uncle of skateboarder and reality TV star Bam Margera—when he was accused of sexual assault on a minor at a Colorado event.

“It can be daunting to try an unpopular case,” Jordan said. “Sometimes you feel it’s lonely and you feel outnumbered, but it’s also an amazing thing to sit there with you client and often their family… and to go through that experience.”

But in the end, Jordan said she is most comfortable in the role of John Adams, representing unpopular clients. Still, she admits that it being a criminal defender can be a tough job.

“I enjoy the practice of criminal law,” she said. “I also think it’s one of the most stressful things you can do because you hold people’s lives in your hands.”

But she said the work of the jury and their understanding of the role they play in understanding the prosecution’s burden of proof and the importance of being sure that an innocent person is not convicted is crucial.

“The important thing I think you learn when you’re a juror on a criminal case is that when you uphold those principles of law…you’re doing justice,” Jordan said.

Denver Public Schools students were also recognized for their participation in the DBA YLD essay contest. Emma Austin was awarded first place, Ella Kilroy received second, and Livvy Fore took third place.

The Docket eFile brings features from your favorite Denver Bar Association publication to you digitally. When you see the logo, you’re reading an article from The Docket. You’ll also still be able to read the full issue online at denbar.org/docket.

Tenth Circuit: Requesting Immediate Home/Family Time, with Only a Fleeting Mention of Need to See Doctor, Does Not Trigger Duty Under ADA to Accommodate HIV Positive Employee

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in EEOC v. C.R. England, Inc. on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Respondents. Petitioner, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1999, was hired as a trucker for Respondents in 2002, at which time he disclosed his illness. He subsequently also pursued a training position with the company, and worked with management to create a form for trainees informing them of his condition, which was only presented to one person. Petitioner also requested several days of home time, but they were denied as vacation requests required two weeks of notice. On his first training assignment, after stressful turn of events, though not uncommon in the industry, he informed the company he was leaving immediately with his truck to his family home in Florida for two weeks, needed to see his doctor, and left his partner at a truck stop. He was fired from his training position, and was later fired from the company for not generating income during those two unscheduled weeks or making his lease payments on his truck. The EEOC and Petitioner brought an employment discrimination and retaliation suit against Respondents, claiming they had fired him because of his illness and therefore violated his rights under the ADA.

The Court, however, agreed with the district court and sided with Respondents. The Court found that Petitioner’s two requests for home time did not put Respondent on notice that that Petitioner was requesting reasonable accommodation due to his HIV status; Petitioner classified the requests as “family time,” rather than for his illness, besides his “after-the-fact, fleeing statement mentioning a need to see his doctor. . . . Therefore, his requests did not trigger the company’s duty under ADA § 102(b)(5).” As to his retaliation claim, the Court concluded that even if Petitioner could support a prima facie case, Respondents have proffered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for his firing: Petitioner had “just debt” for his truck that he “genuinely owed” under the lease agreement, which is why he was reported to a debt collection agency.

Petitioner also brought two state law claims that were dismissed. He claimed Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress by Respondents creating the form disclosing his HIV status; the Court determined that the company’s “conduct in presenting [Petitioner]’s trainee with the acknowledgment form disclosing [his] HIV status may not be reasonably regarded as extreme or outrageous.” Additionally, his invasion of privacy claim fails because “the disclosure to one potential trainee and a handful of [Respondent's] employees does not constitute ‘public disclosure.'”

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/3/11

On Tuesday, May 3, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued three unpublished opinions in addition to two published opinions.

Unpublished

Sanchez v. Ledezma

Torres v. Ledezma

Rosa v. Williams

No case summaries are available for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Repeated Bad Faith Failure to Respond to Discovery Requests and Motions to Compel is Grounds for Dismissal

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Lee v. Max Int’l, LLC on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioner filed suit against Respondent for breach of contract; multiple discovery requests were submitted by Respondent and two motions to compel were granted by a magistrate to force production of documents by Petitioner. After repeated noncompliance, Petitioner was also warned his actions could lead to sanctions and, ultimately, the case was dismissed by the district court. Petitioner appeals the dismissal of the case. The Court agreed with the district court’s decision, finding that the district court’s “considerable discretion in this arena easily embraces the right to dismiss or enter default judgment in a case under Rule 37(b) when a litigant has disobeyed two orders compelling production of the same discovery materials in its possession . . . . [Petitioners] in this case were given no fewer than three chances to make good their discovery obligation,” including claiming they had made good when they knowingly had not, which is “strong evidence of willfulness and bad faith, and in any event is easily fault enough . . . to warrant dismissal or default judgment.”

Additionally, the district court need not expressly discuss the various factors a court may choose to consider when deciding whether to issue a dismissal sanction, as defined by Ehrenhaus v. Reynolds, 965 F.2d 916, 921 (10th Cir. 1992). The factors are not a rigid test and are merely helpful criteria; “a district court’s failure to mention or afford them extended discussion does not guarantee an automatic reversal,” especially with such a clear record of abuse and noncompliance.