August 24, 2019

Archives for September 21, 2011

Governor Hickenlooper Appoints Billings-Vela as County Judge in Teller County

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, Governor John Hickenlooper announced his appointment of Linda Billings-Vela to serve as a county judge in Teller County (Fourth Judicial District). Billings-Vela will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Jackson L. Peters, Jr. and her appointment will be effective October 1.

Billings-Vela is from Teller County and currently serves as a magistrate in the Fourth Judicial District Court, where she has worked since 2009. She presides over the dependency and neglect docket and the family treatment drug court docket.

Previously, Billings-Vela worked for the Fourth Judicial District’s District Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted criminal cases in the juvenile, county court, district court, and economic crimes division. Between her two periods of employment at that Office, she worked in the private sector.  Her practice included general civil matters, school law, domestic relations, and municipal utilities law. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and her J.D. from the University of Denver School of Law.

Veterans’ Legal Clinics to Start in November; New Website for Legal Services in Denver

The Colorado Bar Association is beginning a statewide effort to establish free legal clinics for veterans. The first clinics will be held in Denver and Colorado Springs on Veteran’s Day, November 11, and Fort Collins on November 10. Lawyers who are interested in volunteering to staff the “legal advice” clinics are needed for those locations, as well as others to be established in the future.

Additionally, lawyers will be needed to assist in taking on pro bono cases for those veterans needing representation. If you are interested in helping our veterans, please contact Heather Clark at

Also, a new website has been created to connect local veterans with the people who want to help them resolve their legal issues. Veterans Legal Services of Denver was founded by combat veterans and University of Denver Sturm College of Law students Dustin Charapata and Sean Marsh.

Finalists Selected to Fill Judgeship in Cheyenne County

The Fifteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission has nominated three candidates for a Cheyenne County Court judgeship created by the retirement of the Honorable Clifford Mays, effective November 1, 2011.

The nominees for the bench are Penny Jo McPherson of Kit Carson, and Gerald Keefe and Christian Tallman, both of Cheyenne Wells. All were selected by the commission on September 20, 2011.

Under the Colorado Constitution, Governor Hickenlooper has until October 6 to appoint one of the nominees as county court judge for Cheyenne County.

Comments regarding any of the nominees can be emailed to the Governor’s Office.

Ross Guberman: How to Get Memos that Help, Not Hurt

I recently asked some associates during a seminar why they thought partners assigned memos.

For the first time that morning, the associates were silent. Finally, about twenty seconds later, one woman whispered:

“Because the partner wants to learn more about the law?”

Not quite. But her response helps explain why supervisors find many memos rambling, wishy-washy, and pedantic.

Young attorneys and their supervisors have cross-purposes here. A partner asks for the memo to help make a decision. But the associate wants to avoid making any decision at all, particularly a wrong one, and thus hedges at every turn.

An Alternative Approach

To get around this impasse, try the following approach:

  1. When you assign a memo, tell the attorney exactly what you plan to do after you read it. Are you advising a client or plotting internal strategy? How will the memo affect the course you take? Many associates tell me they have no idea what their memo is for.
  2. Remind young attorneys that memos are practical tools that must drive toward a “yes” or “no” decision. Readers crave confident executive summaries and short answers that distill all the details the writer has uncovered. Concluding that “the law is all over the place” is not useful. Nor is a mini law-review article filled with “on the one hand and on the other hand” pontifications.
  3. Encourage attorneys to do more than summarize cases and string cite. Even if you need an exhaustive look at the legal landscape, ask the attorney to organize the case law logically. What are the key holdings? How do they relate to one another? How does each case cited help explain the trend in the law?
  4. Suggest the following self-test for attorneys about to submit a memo: Is this memo written for you the writer—or is it written for me the reader? Are you trying to “show your work” and memorialize your own research and thought processes—or are you trying to tell me what I need to know to make an informed decision? If the attorney can certify that everything in the memo is geared to the reader and decision-maker, you’ll have a happy supervisor and an even happier client.

Ross Guberman is the founder and president of Legal Writing Pro, an advanced legal-writing training and consulting firm. He has conducted more than a thousand programs on three continents for many of the largest and most prestigious law firms and for dozens of state and federal agencies and bar associations. Ross is also a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, where he teaches an advanced seminar on drafting and writing strategy. When you see the logo, you’re reading an article from Legal Writing Pro, where the article originally appeared.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/20/11

On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and three unpublished opinions.


Yancey v. Thomas

Bakanovas v. Holder, Jr.

United States v. Brown

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