November 23, 2017

Volunteers Needed for Denver Public Schools Adult Self-Sufficiency Programs

The Mile High United Way, Denver Public Schools, and the Denver Bar Association are collaborating to implement Adult Self-Sufficiency service programs for the Denver Public School community. DPS has chosen to implement the Adult Self-Sufficiency programs to ensure that families receive the services they need to be economically self-sufficient and support their children’s learning. Each program site is picked based on high-need neighborhoods where a greater-than-average percentage of families qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch. Studies have shown that parental or guardian financial instability and family mobility because of financial instability often make it difficult for students to stay on track academically.

The first program site will be College View Elementary at 2675 South Decatur Street in Denver.  We are looking for family law attorneys to provide a 20 minute phone consultation on domestic issues to parents at College View Elementary. For more information, contact Meghan Bush at (303) 824-5303 or mbush@cobar.org.

Volunteers Needed for Clinic on Collecting Child Support

The DBA Access to Justice Committee will be providing a training for the presenters of the newly created “How to Collect Child Support” public clinic. This clinic is a great way to get involved with the Denver community, gather information, and teach basic techniques for collecting support. The child support collections training will be on June 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the CBA offices, 1900 Grant St., 9th floor. One CLE credit available. Contact Meghan Bush to register.

Volunteers Needed to Help Plant Trees in Colorado Natural Disaster Areas

treeOnce again, the American Bar Association, Colorado Bar Association, and local bar associations are seeking volunteers to help plant trees in areas devastated by fires and floods in Colorado.  Please see below for two volunteer opportunities.  We hope to see you outside this Spring!

Larimer County
On Saturday April 5, 2014, lawyers, friends, and family from Boulder County Bar Association and surrounding areas are invited to plant trees in the Bellevue-Watson Fish Hatchery, located near Fort Collins.*

The Hatchery was greatly impacted by both the High Park Fire and the September 2013 floods.   It has sustained increased run-off from these natural disasters, which has caused excess sediment to the Hatchery.  The State-run Hatchery raises more than 300,000 fish each year which stock local reservoirs, ponds, and rivers.  The sediment is affecting the health of the fish and overall operation of the Hatchery.  The planting project will result in a barrier to prevent excess debris/run-off from affecting the fish population.

We are looking for volunteers of all ages.  It will be a great opportunity to restore an area affected by the flood, and to learn about this local Hatchery.

We hope to arrange ride-sharing to the location for this half day volunteering opportunity.  Please email gstockmayer@dietzedavis.com to sign up and for additional information about the Saturday, April 5th event.

This project is sponsored by:

*We are planning on organizing one or more Boulder-based planting events this summer and/or fall for those unable to attend the April 5 event.

Jefferson County
On Saturday May 3, 2014, lawyers, friends, and family are invited to plant willow stakes near Deckers, Colorado in the Hayman Fire burn area.

The Hayman Fire was one of the largest ever in Colorado and although it occurred several years ago, there is still a great need to replant vegetation and stabilize stream banks.

We will organize carpools from Denver and Boulder as the planting area is about a one hour and 40 minute drive from Denver.  Planting will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Last year’s volunteers had a wonderful time meeting other attorneys and doing good work for Colorado’s environment.

Please email Grant Boies at gboies@rccinvestments.net with your name and phone number (and those of your friends) if you want to participate.

This project is sponsored by:

Volunteer Moot Court Judges Sought for First-Year Oral Arguments

Every spring, 1L students at CU Law School take a class in appellate advocacy. The law school needs volunteers to act as judges for oral arguments. Notice is short, so please volunteer right away if you’re able to help!

Oral arguments will take place from April 4-16, 2014. Most arguments will be held in Denver at the Tenth Circuit and the Colorado Court of Appeals, and some will be held in Boulder at CU Law School. Unless otherwise indicated, the arguments will last approximately 2 hours each. The argument schedule can be accessed by using the following link:

http://www.colorado.edu/law/judges-needed

If you are interested in volunteering, please use the RSVP form on the linked website.

This year the school is using two different problems. One, which is being used in sections taught by Todd Stafford, Gabrielle Stafford, and Natalie Mack, concerns an appeal to the Seventh Circuit concerning inmate Marcos Perez’s claim that Correctional Officer Lenny Andrews violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment while imprisoned. The second problem, which is being used in sections taught by Amy Bauer and Corie Rosen Felder, concerns an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals concerning defendant Adolf Beck’s motion to suppress evidence gathered during a one-on-one show-up procedure. So that you can prepare, the school will provide a bench brief and the students’ briefs.

Please join the CU Law moot court team by volunteering your time. They much appreciate your involvement in preparing the next generation of lawyers. Please also pass this message along to other members of your firm or organization who might also be willing to volunteer.

Share Your Knowledge with Colorado Flood Relief Volunteers

FloodReliefIn response to the devastating floods in Colorado, many of your fellow attorney members are volunteering their time by providing legal advice and assistance to flood victims.

The issues brought to the volunteers touch all aspects of law, from real estate and business to immigration and trust and estate. Often times our volunteers face questions or need to discuss a legal issue outside of their expertise. As a result, the CBA is starting a Flood Relief Discussion List that will serve as a forum for volunteers to ask questions or start a conversation related to their volunteer efforts.

If you want to help the flood victims and volunteers but don’t have time to take on a legal case, consider joining the discussion list. As a discussion list member, when you see an email or discussion topic that relates to your knowledge and expertise, you can respond with your advice on the issue at hand.

Learn more and subscribe to the Flood Relief discussion list.

We’re still in desperate need of volunteers. Please consider volunteering. Go to colofloodlegalrelief.org to learn more about how to volunteer.

Free Legal Assistance Available for Storm & Flood Survivors — Partnership between the Colorado Bar Association, ABA and FEMA

floodColorado lawyers are among those ready to lend a hand to the survivors of Colorado’s recent storms and flooding. The Colorado Bar Association Disaster Relief Program is gearing up to offer no-cost, disaster-related legal advice to those impacted in Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld Counties. The CBA and its Young Lawyers Division, Colorado Legal Services, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and several local bar associations are partnering in this effort with FEMA and the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

“I’m proud to see attorneys from across the state stepping up to lend a hand to their fellow Coloradans and hope we can offer some assistance during these tragic events,” said Colorado Bar Association President Terry Ruckriegle.

Victims seeking legal advice can visit www.ColoFloodLegalRelief.org to complete a legal assistance form or call the toll-free helpline at 855-424-5347 24 hours a day. Those seeking assistance are asked to provide as many details about their situations in the online form or message as possible.  Applications of victims seeking help will be reviewed to determine the areas in which they need assistance and then paired with a volunteer attorney who has experience in those areas of the law.  This free service begins immediately.

The type of legal assistance available includes:

  • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster survivors
  • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster
  • Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
  • Counseling on landlord/tenant problems

Attorneys wishing to help should complete the online form at ColoFloodLegalRelief.org/volunteer. Attorneys are needed to provide assistance in many areas of the law, and volunteer opportunities are available in person in several counties or by phone.

New Members Needed for Colorado Commission on Judicial Performance

The Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation seeks individuals to fill vacancies for judicial performance evaluations in all 22 of Colorado’s judicial districts, as well as for the statewide commission that evaluates Colorado Supreme Court justices and Colorado Court of Appeals judges.

Commissions on Judicial Performance are non-partisan groups consisting of attorney and non-attorney volunteers who evaluate the performance of judicial officers based on established criteria. According to statute, those criteria include integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance, and service to the legal profession and the public. The findings of the Commissions are provided to Colorado voters, who decide whether to retain judges during the general election.

More information about the Commissions on Judicial Performance may be found here. Questions can be directed to Kent Wagner, Executive Director of the Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation, at (303) 928-7779. For a list of vacancies, click here.

 

Volunteers Needed to Help Hand Out School Supplies at DBA-CAN Event

Each year, the Denver Bar Association Community Action Network hosts a school supply drive to benefit the Educational Outreach Program through Denver Public Schools. The school supply drive helps underprivileged kids receive tools to ensure that they are ready for and excited about school.

Today, July 26, 2013, is the last day of the DBA-CAN school supply drive. Donations of school supplies can be dropped off at the CBA and CLE offices during business hours. All standard school supply items are needed, including backpacks, crayons, markers, pencils, erasers, pens, rulers, glue, pocket folders, paper, notebooks, binders, geometry sets, and boxes of tissue. Click here for a complete list of needed supplies.

There are other volunteer opportunities related to the school supply drive. On August 1, volunteers are needed to sort through the donated supplies. On August 3, volunteers are needed to stuff backpacks for donation. Additionally, on Saturday, August 10, at Whittier Elementary School in Denver (25th & Downing), the DBA-CAN and community volunteers will hand out the donated school supplies. This will be a fun carnival-themed day and many volunteers are needed for the carnival booths.

If you can volunteer for any of the activities, click here. For more information, contact Heather Clark (hclark@cobar.org) or Kate Schuster (kschuster@cobar.org). Please feel free to forward this information—DBA-CAN needs many volunteers!

“Veterans Stand Down” Event To Be Held November 8, 2012

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Denver Regional Office will hold its second Veterans Stand Down event on Thursday, November 8, 2012. Homeless veterans with certain types of open court cases in the Denver County Court can meet with Denver County Court Judge Raymond N. Satter and volunteer attorneys to resolve those legal issues. Denver Bar Association volunteer attorneys will also provide information and referrals to legal services organizations.

“We had a great response last year to the court being in place at the Stand Down and we’re happy that we can continue to offer this valuable service, in addition to Denver Bar Association volunteers providing general legal information. In this way, veterans can take care of old pending matters and have important benefits reinstated once again,” noted Satter.

The Veterans Stand Down will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Colorado National Guard Armory at 5275 Franklin Street. Veterans who attend will also receive food, clothing, health check-ups, and employment services.

“Law Suit Days” Clothing Drive on October 10 and 11, 2012

The Denver Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is holding its “Law Suit Days” clothing drive for new and gently used professional and business clothing, shoes, and accessories on October 10 and 11, 2012. The business clothing will be given to Bayaud Enterprises, Inc., a local nonprofit that provides vocational and job placement services for individuals with disabilities and to homeless or low-income individuals and families.

The clothing drive will take place on Wednesday, October 10, and Thursday, October 11, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the steps of the Denver City & County Building  at 1437 Bannock. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved inside the City & County Building to the second floor of the rotunda.

Clothing should be clean and on hangers. Volunteers from the Young Lawyers Division will be available to collect the donations at the City & County Building. They will not be able to pick up clothing or accept donations on alternate dates.

Wheels of Justice Leans into a New Season: June 6 Kick-Off Party at the Denver Athletic Club

It was just seven years ago that Wheels of Justice made its first appearance in the Courage Classic, a three-day bike tour that raises money for Children’s Hospital Colorado. Last year, it boasted 213 riders and raised $290,000, making it the ride’s top fundraising team for the second year in a row. In its first six years, the team has raised more than $1.3 million for Children’s Hospital Colorado.

On Wednesday, June 6, 2012, Wheels of Justice will kick off its seventh season in style on the rooftop of the Denver Athletic Club (DAC) with free food and drinks. Hear from patient families and doctors about the impact the team’s fundraising has on the Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

And:

  • All attendees will receive a free two-week pass to the DAC.
  • The first 23 people to RSVP will be invited to join a special rooftop spin class at the DAC during the summer.

Whether you’re a veteran Wheels of Justice teammate or a first-year rider, come out on June 6 for the camaraderie and leave with the inspiration and determination to make a big difference while riding your best ride yet!

Details

Pre-Party Team Ride: June 6, 2012, 5:00-6:00 pm (meet at DAC)

Kick-off Party: June 6, 2012, 6:00-8:00 pm

Where: Denver Athletic Club Rooftop, 1325 Glenarm Place, Denver CO

RSVP: Kate Schuster, kschuster@cobar.org

Colorado’s Justice Crisis

It’s a perfect storm.  Although overused, that metaphor so accurately captures what is happening with respect to Colorado’s legal aid delivery system that it is difficult to avoid.  Just as in a perfect storm, a rare combination of circumstances has resulted in a crisis of unprecedented magnitude.

Colorado Legal Services (CLS) is the only program in the state that provides free legal assistance (advice, brief service, and full representation) in civil matters to low-income individuals and families in every Colorado county.  With 14 offices around the state, it operates like a legal emergency room, serving low income Coloradans at greatest risk and in greatest need.  In 2010 alone, CLS provided assistance to over 11,000 indigent clients facing serious legal problems that directly implicated their health, safety, stability and sufficiency.  With few exceptions, CLS clients live at or below 125% of the federal poverty guideline (which translates to an annual income of $13,613 for an individual and $27,938 for a family of four).  They include senior citizens, victims of domestic violence, veterans, persons with mental and physical disabilities, and other particularly vulnerable Coloradans.

Even before the recession, the need for legal aid among the poor outstripped available resources.  A study in 2005 found that for every client served by CLS, at least one person seeking help was turned away because of insufficient resources.  The Great Recession and its aftermath have made the situation dramatically worse, as more and more low-income Coloradans experience the significant legal problems that accompany acute economic distress and prolonged unemployment.  With the deterioration of the labor and housing markets, rising fuel and food costs, and depleted savings, more Coloradans are facing eviction, foreclosure, delinquent child support, hunger, financial distress, bankruptcy, and domestic violence.  In addition, prolonged un- or under-employment means that the number of people eligible for legal aid continues to rise.  The most recent Census Bureau survey found that there are now over 750,000 Coloradans who are income-eligible for services.

Amidst this rising tide of need, CLS is experiencing devastating funding losses that threaten to compromise its ability to meet even the most serious legal needs of the poor.  Federal funding, with strong bipartisan support, has long been a financial foundation for legal aid.  Yet, notwithstanding the increased need for legal services and the value of those services in stabilizing families in crisis, just before Thanksgiving, Congress approved a budget bill for 2012 that includes a 14.85% cut in funding for legal aid programs such as CLS.  This translates into a loss for Colorado of over $605,000.

This latest reduction in federal funding comes on top of other funding losses suffered over the last two years totaling nearly $1 million.  Most notable among these is the drop in funding from COLTAF, the Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation.  The extended period of very low interest rates that we are experiencing (now expected to continue until at least mid-2013) has decimated COLTAF’s revenue, which is comprised solely of the interest earned on lawyers’ trust accounts, and although COLTAF has a reserve, built in better times for just such times as these, it is rapidly being depleted.  Even with the reserve, COLTAF funding for CLS has dropped by $630,000 over the course of the last two years, and COLTAF is projecting another cut to CLS of at least $520,000 in 2012.

Also important is a loss of $165,000 in state funding for legal services for victims of domestic violence.  Whether the state will be in a position to restore that funding for fiscal year 2013 remains to be seen, but an actual increase in the state appropriation, and certainly one anywhere near the magnitude necessary to cover for other losses, is not in the cards, given the state’s current budget constraints.  All told, by the end of 2012, CLS will likely be down over $2 million, or more than 20% of its funding just two years ago.

All of these funding losses mean that CLS, already woefully understaffed, will shrink further, which will necessarily reduce the legal assistance available to low-income Coloradans, regardless of their legal need.  Already, where there were six CLS lawyers doing family law cases in the Denver metro area, which has an indigent population of nearly 300,000, now there will be only five;  where there were four lawyers handling evictions and other housing issues, three will have to suffice; and where there were three doing foreclosure defense, now there will be two.  Other parts of the state are faring no better.  In Grand Junction, with an indigent population in Mesa County of about 17,000, there are now only two CLS lawyers, where formerly there were three.  The CLS offices in Colorado Springs and Alamosa have each lost a paralegal, and the Durango office has lost the sole member of its support staff, leaving just three lawyers and a paralegal to serve the entire southwest corner of the state, including the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservations.  This serious understaffing is only going to get worse.

Bar-sponsored pro bono programs alone cannot be expected to pick up this much slack, particularly since they too are suffering from cuts in their COLTAF funding.  Nor can the court system, also suffering from inadequate funding, be expected to seamlessly absorb ever larger numbers of pro se litigants, especially if timely legal assistance would have eliminated the need for them to be there in the first place.  It is true that to maximize access for those in greatest need, a well-functioning civil legal aid delivery system must have well-managed pro bono programs; it must have a legal community committed to providing pro bono services to the poor; it must have self-help resources that make courts and administrative agencies accessible for those who are proceeding pro se; and it must maximize its use of technology to improve access in rural areas and otherwise.  But the backbone of any well-functioning system must be an adequately-funded, staffed legal aid program, with lawyers and paralegals, who are expert in dealing with the problems unique to low-income populations, and who are available on demand when low-income families are in crisis and time is of the essence.

The legal profession has a singular responsibility to respond to this crisis in our civil justice system.  CLS is the place of last resort for low-income families, the disabled, veterans and military families, and seniors who are facing serious civil legal problems.  If turned away, these Coloradans are effectively denied the rights, remedies, and protections afforded by the law, sometimes with devastating consequences – lethal injuries at the hands of an abusive spouse, a home lost to an unscrupulous lender, life on the street because of a wrongful denial of disability benefits.  As lawyers, we understand that the rule of law is in jeopardy when the protections of the law are not available to increasingly large numbers of our most vulnerable citizens.

The leadership of lawyers – whether in private practice or in-house corporate counsel, large firm or solo practice, government or nonprofit – is more important than ever in fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.  The effect of CLS’ funding losses is calculable in terms of dollars lost, staff positions eliminated, and additional applicants for service turned away.  But the actual impact on the lives of low-income Coloradans, the damage to our communities, the tarnishing of our nation’s fundamental promise of equal justice, and the risk to our civil justice system and the rule of law is immeasurable.

Here are some things you can do to help:

  1. Give generously to the Legal Aid Foundation (http://www.legalaidfoundation.org/).
  2. Take a pro bono case from Metro Volunteer Lawyers (http://www.metrovolunteerlawyers.org/).
  3. Speak to your elected representatives (federal and state) about the importance of public funding for civil justice.
  4. Speak with your banker to ensure that the interest rate on your COLTAF account is as generous as possible.
Diana Poole is the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Foundation, which raises money for Colorado Legal Services, and COLTAF, which administers Colorado’s IOLTA program. She is also a member of the Colorado Access to Justice Commission.