June 23, 2018

Literary Lawyers

Our Colorado legal community is home to many attorney-authors who have had wide success beyond the legal realm. Below are a list of local authors who spend their time outside the courtroom writing everything from thrillers to nonfiction and legal drama to legal analysis.

Derek Blass

Enemy in Blue

Blass is a 2005 graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He specializes in civil litigation but also has transaction experience, working with public and private companies on securities, acquisition, contract and formation issues. A proficient Spanish-speaker, Blass is developing his practice representing members of the Latino/a business community; he is the 2011 recipient of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association’s Outstanding New Hispanic Attorney Award. Click here for more information about Blass.

The story begins with the videotaped murder of an illegal immigrant by an allegedly racist police officer. The murder draws Cruz Marquez, a young lawyer, into an action-packed journey to preserve the evidence. His success depends on surviving the Chief of Police’s sinister plotting, assassination attempts by a deranged hit man, and the raw force of Sergeant Shaver  —  his enemy in blue.

Click here to order the book.


Robin Fudge Finegan & Krista R. Flannigan

Hope Gets the Last Word: Stories that Heal

Robin Fudge Finegan, M.A., M.N.M., and Krista R. Flannigan, J.D., M.S.W., specialize in providing services to victims of large-scale disasters and providing training and support services to organizations directly involved in a crisis. They have trained nationally on a coordinated community response for victims who are involved in mass tragedy, high-profile trials, as well as on the impact of mass tragedy on victims and communities, and have worked with the Office for Victims of Crime (a program of the U.S. Department of Justice) and the Centers for Disease Control to develop a victim assistance response to biological and chemical terrorist attacks. Together, they served as codirectors and public information liaisons for the Colorado-Oklahoma Resource Council (CORC), the community based group that coordinated resources and support for survivors and victims’ family members of the Oklahoma City bombing while they attended the bombing trials in Denver. Additionally, Robin and Krista were the two primary consultants for the Office for Victims of Crime in the two years following the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, and provided consultation and direct services following the 9/11 disaster and the related judicial proceedings of Zacarias Moussaoui, as well as the Pan Am Flight 103 trial in The Hague.

Hope Gets the Last Word: Stories that Heal (previously published under the title Tragedy to Triumph: Lessons of Recovery and Hope) is a book about healing when one’s world is torn by personal tragedy, violence, terrorism, and mass tragedy. It is a book about hope, about how the heart begins to mend, about the very essence of the human spirit.

Authors Robin Finegan and Krista Flannigan — who have been intimately involved in providing services to thousands of victims and survivors of personal tragedy as well as our nation’s recent collective disasters —reveal the journey they witnessed and the path they shared alongside those recovering from tragedy. Through touching, sometime painful, always heroic stories, the authors pen the pain and the poetry of life’s journeys. This book shares their firsthand experiences with what they now call ‘the Gifts of Tragedy” — the triumph of mankind as it survives, and ultimately conquers, the unimaginable.

Click here to order the book.

Frank Gibbard

Steam, Steel & Statutes: True Tales from Colorado Legal History

Frank Gibbard was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Southern Illinois. He has lived in Colorado since 1983, when he married his college sweetheart Christine and moved to her hometown of Fort Collins. He has two children. Frank is a 1990 graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law, where he was awarded the Order of the Coif and served as Justice (president) of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity. After a clerkship with Justice G. Joseph Cardine of Wyoming Supreme Court, he worked in private practice in Chetenne before assuming his present position as a staff attorney at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in 1995. Since 2003 he has also served as Secretary of the Tenth Circuit Historical Society.

Step back in time and enjoy the interesting, unexpected, and sometimes humorous legal cases that are highlighted in Steam, Steel & Statutes: True Tales from Colorado Legal History. This compilation of articles from the Historical Perspectives feature in The Colorado Lawyer will be a popular addition to law firm bookshelves throughout the state. Follow the legal twists and turns in such cases as:

  • The Murder-by-Mail Slaying of Josephine A. Barnaby;
  • Divorce by Jury: Governor Gilpin’s Matrimonial Ordeal;
  • Race, Murder and Criminal Prosecution in Wartime Denver;
  • Digging for Gold in an Old Miner’s Heart;
  • Death on the Kansas Pacific Railroad

Click here to order the book.

R.J. Jagger

Lawyer Trap

R.J. Jagger is a trial lawyer and novelist living in Golden, Colorado. His books are standalone thrillers and can be read in any order.


Newly licensed attorney Aspen Wilde joins Denver’s largest law firm to discover that an attractive, up-and-coming associate mysteriously vanished several months earlier and is presumed dead. She secretly embarks upon a brilliant but dangerous plan to trap the killer, only to find herself increasingly intertwined in a complex web of murders involving several different women killed in very different ways. As she frantically searches for answers, not only to trap the killer but also to keep herself from getting trapped, her hunt collides with the ongoing investigation of Denver homicide detective Nick Teffinger, a man who has strayed into the edgy world of a beautiful suspect to find out if she is a murderer, a target, or something else altogether. With the stakes suddenly higher than they could have imagined, Aspen and Teffinger find themselves spiraling deeper and deeper into a deadly vortex where nothing is as it seems and time is running out.

Click here to order the book.

Emily M. Calhoun

Losing Twice: Harms of Indifference in the Supreme Court

Emily M. Calhoun is Professor of Law and the University of Colorado Law School. She has devoted her career to empowering and protecting the rights of individuals, was a civil rights attorney with the Southern Regional Office of the American Civil Liberties Union in the early 1970s, worked as a university administrator to ensure equality for faculty and students, served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado ACLU and the Boulder County Safehouse for battered women, and was a member of the University of Colorado’s Privilege and Tenure Committee hearing faculty grievances affecting academic privileges and freedom. Calhoun currently serves as a mediator of academic freedom disputes for the University of Colorado system; teaches and writes in the area of civil liberties litigation, civil rights legislation, and federal jurisdiction; and consults with organizations and attorneys on constitutional rights issues.

Constitutional ‘losers’ represent a thorny and longstanding problem in American constitutional law. Given our adversarial system, the way that rights cases are decided means that regardless of whether a losing side has committed any actions that cause harm to others, they typically suffer unnecessary harm as a consequence of decisions. In areas such as affirmative action and gay rights, the losers are essentially punished for losing despite neither intending nor causing injury.

In Losing Twice, Emily Calhoun draws upon conflict resolution theory, political theory, and Habermasian discourse theory to argue that in such cases, the Court must work harder to avoid inflicting unnecessary harm on Constitutional losers. But for this to happen, Calhoun contends, the role of judges needs to be reconceptualized. She contends that the Court should not perceive itself simply as an adversarial forum, but also as a ‘transactional’ one, where losers are not simply losers but participants in a process capable of addressing and ameliorating the effects that come with loss. Filled with lucid discussions of well known cases, Losing Twice offers an intellectually powerful argument for transforming the decision-making process in Constitutional rights disputes.

Click here to order the book.

John W. Suthers

No Higher Calling, No Greater Responsibility: A Prosecutor Makes His Case

John W. Suthers has spent his 30-year legal career in the U.S. justice system, serving as an elected district attorney, a presidentially appointed U.S. attorney, and as Colorado’s attorney general. He also ran Colorado’s correctional system from 1999 until 2001.

From the Duke lacrosse team to the Scooter Libby trial, the recent spate of highly publicized cases has reignited public interest in the use and abuse of prosecutorial power. Based on the premise that every American should have a basic understanding of the role of prosecutor, No Higher Calling, No Greater Responsibility analyzes the prosecution function in the broad context of criminal justice. Drawing on his personal experiences as a local, state, and federal prosecutor, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers explains in straight forward terms how the system works and how it might be made to work better, offering a fascinating look at the intricacies of crime and punishment.

Click here to order the book.

Rebecca Love Kourlis

Rebuilding Justice: Civil Courts in Jeopardy and Why You Should Care

Rebecca Love Kourlis is the executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. She served for eleven years as a justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, and eight years as a trial court judge in northwestern Colorado. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ABA Yegge Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Judicial Administration in 2009; Regis University Civis Princeps Award in 2008; and the Colorado Judicial Institute’s 2006 Judicial Independence Award. She is married to Tom Kourlis, a sheep and cattle rancher and former commissioner of agriculture in Colorado. Tom and Becky were named Citizens of the West in 2010. They have three children.

Over the past several decades, the civil justice process has become alarmingly expensive, politicized, and lengthy. Though the court system lies at the heart of American democracy, it often does not meet the legitimate needs of the people, resulting in a rift between citizens and their own legal system. With a system that hasn’t seen major reform since 1938, it’s inevitable that there are shortcomings and misunderstandings. The situation is precarious, but not hopeless.

In Rebuilding Justice, authors Rebecca Love Kourlis and Dirk Olin illuminate why the courts are critical and how they are being eroded, defaced, and undermined in the twenty-first century. While covering complex issues such as civil justice reform, domestic relations, judicial selection, and performance evaluation, Kourlis and Olin propose practical and empowering solutions to improve the efficiency, accessibility, and integrity of America’s civil courts. An important portrait of the American judicial system, Rebuilding Justice is a call to action for citizens and civil servants alike to take the steps necessary to fix, support, and protect this crucial cornerstone of our democracy. Click here to read the foreword, written by former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, along with the Table of Contents and introductory material.

Click here to order the book.