July 18, 2019

Archives for September 27, 2011

Lessons from Constitution Day

“Can any of you run for Senate?”

“Yes!” came the enthusiastic response from McMeen Elementary fifth graders.

“No,” replied Connie Smith, an attorney with Fairfield and Woods, her response grabbing their attention.  “None of you are 30 yet!” And so went the dialogue during Constitution Day, as fifth and eighth graders learned about the Constitution from volunteer attorneys in the Denver area.

Smith, along with two other attorneys from Fairfield and Woods, engaged 100 fifth graders for three 45-minute learning sessions that sounded more like a fun-filled exchange than a civics lesson.  Colin Walker, one of the three attorney volunteers, brought a gavel to keep order with his 25 students, but it was not needed.  The students had prepped for the session and were eager to surprise Walker with their new knowledge of the three branches of the government, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.  Jack Tanner, the firm’s third volunteer, arrived dressed for success, with a red, white, and blue flag tie. Prior to Constitution Day, Jane McFadden, a McMeen fifth-grade teacher, had identified her students and three other classes that she team teaches with to participate with the attorneys.  All over Denver similar learning was occurring the week of September 12.

Colin Walker, an attorney at Fairfield and Woods, discusses the Constitution with fifth graders from McMeen Elementary in Denver

Constitution or Citizenship Day, usually observed on September 17, is an American federal observance that commemorates the date when delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the U.S. Constitution in 1787. When the date falls on a weekend, as it did this year, another date is selected during Constitution Week, the five school days in September dedicated to commemorating the adoption of the Constitution. The purpose of Constitution Week is to promote study and education about the Constitution, and Constitution Day is designated specifically by each teacher as a day to educate their students about the importance of the Constitution.

This September marked the sixth year that the Denver Bar Association has matched volunteer attorneys with Denver Public Schools to talk with students about the Constitution. To ensure a strong program, the DBA worked with Liberty Day, a nonprofit organization that provided each child with a red white and blue pencil and pocket-sized copy of the Constitution, and provided their teachers and lawyer volunteers with instructional materials. There were 1,553 students taught by volunteer attorneys—1,058 elementary students and 495 middle school students.

“It was fun to figure out what information would engage them,” said Smith, who did her homework to prepare a lesson plan.  She found a “wonderful website,” icivics.org, beforehand that inspired her. The site was created by Supreme Court justices to teach children civics. It is engaging and informative, exactly the same qualities that these three Fairfield and Woods lawyers strived for with their classes. According to students and teachers, Constitution Day did just that.

A special thanks to all of the volunteers that made this event possible: Lacy A. Baldwin, Jocelyn Bates, Jamie A. Bosten, Jim Carr, Jill Chase, Randy B. Corporon, Joshua Crawley, Jane T. Feldman, C. Adam Foster, Jason R. Gardner, Tim Gilmore, Russ Haskell, Eric J. Heil, Jeremy Hildebrand, Matthew Holohan, Linda J. Hoover, Scott S. Humphreys, Don D. Jacobson, Raymond Dean Jones, Jeff Knetsch, Trish M. Krajniak, Amy Kramer, Herrick K. Lidstone, Matthew Morrissey, Charles H. Nadler, Edward W. Nottingham, Christopher L. Ottele, Dan Pabon, Margaret Perl, Joe Peters, Steve Roberts, Monica Rosenbluth, Robert F. Rosenthal, Ann M. Schroeder, Connie Smith, Douglas A. Stevens, Jack Tanner, Elsa Martinez Tenreiro, and Steven Woodrow.

Colin A. Walker focuses on trials and litigation, particularly employment law, landlord/tenant, construction, intellectual property, securities, and real estate-related litigation, at Fairfield and Woods. He also counsels clients on employment policies and practices.

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Seventeenth Judicial District Celebrates Launch of Drug Court in Adams County Tomorrow

Colorado State Judicial has announced that the Seventeenth Judicial District will officially launch a drug court in the Adams County Court with a kick-off celebration tomorrow, Wednesday, September 28, 2011 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. The event will be held in the jury assembly room at the Adams County Justice Center in Brighton (1100 Judicial Center Drive).  Members of the public are invited to attend in anticipation of the first docket for the new drug court being called next week on October 6, in division 8.

“This type of problem solving court has proven effective in both saving money for the taxpayers and bringing about positive change and accountability to the individuals that have drug dependency,” said Adams County Court Judge Leroy Kirby, who will preside over the drug court.  “This has truly been a team effort with all the essential agencies involved and would not be successful without them.  The Seventeenth Judicial District now joins numerous other adult drug treatment courts throughout the State of Colorado in offering a problem solving solution.”

Problem-solving courts have been shown to be an effective means of reducing substance abuse and increasing the likelihood that people will remain in recovery and reintegrate into their communities as productive and contributing members, with fewer instances of relapse or recurrence of criminal behavior than traditional court proceedings.

“Drug courts change lives by reducing the number of people committing future crimes,” said Seventeenth Judicial District Attorney Don Quick.  “These proven, cost-saving programs for non-violent offenders benefit not only the abusers, but also their families and the community.”

The Adams County Drug Court is committed to an integrated and collaborative effort of treatment, accountability, and rehabilitation of drug dependent offenders.  The program is designed to ensure community safety and create healthy individuals and families while reducing costs and recidivism.

The Adams County Drug Court is one of more than sixty problem-solving courts operating in seventeen of Colorado’s twenty-two judicial districts. Colorado’s problem-solving courts include adult and juvenile drug courts, family/dependency and neglect drug courts, DUI courts, adult and juvenile mental health courts, veteran trauma courts, and truancy courts.

Denver Drug Court Opens a Special Track for Veterans

Earlier this month, the Denver Adult Drug Court implemented a Veterans Track within its existing problem-solving courts program. As a result, some military veterans charged with non-violent crimes may now have the opportunity to be enrolled in the court-monitored treatment and accountability program.

The drug court program was expanded to create the new track, which is designed to balance the specialized treatment needs of veterans with the need to protect the community’s safety. The goal is to provide non-violent offenders with effective treatment while still holding them accountable for their actions.

According to the press release from State Judicial, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals reports that one in six veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from a substance abuse challenge; one in five has symptoms of a mental disorder or cognitive impairment. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be an underlying factor in crimes allegedly committed by veterans and their subsequent involvement with the criminal justice system.

“The Denver Adult Drug Court once again is in the forefront in addressing the critical needs of vulnerable segments of our society,” said Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert S. Hyatt. “Providing a specialized court experience for veterans is a logical extension of the many services already available in the Denver Adult Drug Court.”

The new arm of the Denver Adult Drug Court is the second court program in Colorado specifically designed to address the needs of military veterans. A Veteran Trauma Court in the Fourth Judicial District, which serves El Paso and Teller counties, has been operating for two years with a similar goal and program.

Other new services provided to veterans have also been organized this month. The Colorado Bar Association is sponsoring Veterans’ Legal Clinics, which begin in November. Additionally, a new website has been created to connect local veterans with the people who want to help them resolve their legal issues.

For more information on Veterans Track program and the Veterans Trauma Court, contact Laura Williams, Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health, at (303) 866-7433 or laura.williams@state.co.us.

Click here to read the full press release about the veterans track from State Judicial.

Emanuel Anton – An Interview with the 2010 Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year

In December 2010, the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division named Emanuel Anton the Gary McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year in recognition of his professional accomplishments and service to the community.  Anton has built a successful law firm – ALG | Attorneys – specializing in aviation and international trade, and he spends his time outside of work advocating for those with Down syndrome.  I sat down with Emanuel in January and chatted with him about his background, his focus on positivity, and how his daughter has inspired his practice.

Emanuel Anton is a passionate expert in aviation and international trade law.  After dabbling in several practice areas at a mid-sized Denver law firm, Anton stumbled into his current line of work by taking on a small pro bono real estate issue for a friend’s father who, unbeknownst to him, was the chief operating officer of an aircraft manufacturer.  At dinner after the pro bono project was complete, this client told Anton that he had earned his trust and offered him his business for aviation and international trade.  Anton confessed that he did not know anything about either subject, but assured his client that he was a quick study and would do his best.  Anton soon fell in love with these two areas of law.

Around this time, Anton had also begun to feel what he describes as an “entrepreneurial itch.”  His father was a small business owner and instilled in him and his siblings a solid work ethic and a mind for business.  Anton branched out on his own in April 2008.  What began with him and a single partner, has expanded to nine lawyers and support staff.  When building his firm, Anton focused on three main ideas: culture, excellence, and attitude.  “I saw how powerful a team could be when everyone worked well together,” Anton says, regarding the importance of building a positive firm culture.  He also encourages the members of his firm to strive for excellence “by being proud of what you do, taking ownership of the work product, and showing others there is value received.”  Anton had also realized how important it was to surround himself with co-workers and clients that are positive.  “Negativity is best kept out of the equation as it feeds off itself.”   “When you do what you love and do it well, boundaries that others place on you are not as limiting.”

Anton has always been a natural at business development.  When speaking to young lawyers about client development, he stresses that everyone is different.  “It takes four to eight months to develop a client relationship and it should be a relationship of give and take.  Selecting the right relationship is half the battle.  It is important to establish trust first.  Once you do, start small, ask for their business on a small project, and build from there.”  He believes a key to his firm’s success has been applying the same focus on culture and attitude with clients as with co-workers.  “Positive people are natural leaders and have a potential for growth.”  Anton wants clients that he would want to see anyway, people that he genuinely appreciates, trusts, and looks forward to spending time with.

His views on positive culture and attitude stem in no small part from his family life.  Anton says that he received a new lens with which to view the world when his daughter was born with Down syndrome.  “This gave me a new perspective on work and relationships – she teaches me, my wife, and my kids regularly.”  As with his approach with work, he makes it a point to surround himself with positive people, seeking out others who will set the bar high for his daughter’s potential.  “If we place limits on her, I will lose, society will lose.”  In the interest of making the world a better place for her, he formed a relationship with the president of Metropolitan ARC, where he was once a board member and now is on the advisory committee.  He is also involved with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, a research and advocacy group committed to making Colorado an ideal place to live for those with Down syndrome.  “Relationships mean so much to me.  I wanted to make it easier for her to have the same network of people that we’re all deserving of.”

This focus on relationships is evident in all aspects of his work and life.  Anton works with many young lawyers and “seeing them gaining confidence and enjoying work is infectious.”  Anton takes time to mentor the young lawyers in his office as a part of building the firm’s culture, but also because others always took the time to mentor him now matter how busy they were.  Early in his career after a hearing, he asked the presiding judge whether he had any advice for a young lawyer.  The judge responded that he’d never been asked that before, but proceeded to invite him back to his chambers for an hour and a half.  The judge advised him to “stay positive and stay focused on the opportunities that exist. . . . Don’t ever compromise your character or your ethics.  There will be many opportunities to do something you know is not right, but the moment you do, you have to start looking backwards.  If you never compromise that, your focus will be forward.”  Anton tries to implement this advice when mentoring others and has also taken it to heart.  “I want to focus on opportunities that lie ahead, not regrets.”

Congratulations to Emanuel Anton for inspiring his fellow young lawyers with his positive attitude, professional accomplishments, and commitment to service.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2011 Gary McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award.  If you know a young lawyer who is inspiring to others, has outstanding professional achievements, and who is committed to public service, please nominate him or her.  Nomination forms are available on the CBA Young Lawyers Division website.

New Order Issued Regarding Retroactive Application of Amendments to the Crack Cocaine Sentencing Guidelines

The United States District Court for the District of Colorado issued General Order 2011-8 on September 19, 2011.

Pursuant to the provisions of The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, the Federal Public Defender for the District of Colorado is appointed to represent any defendant previously determined to have been entitled to appointment of counsel and who is not otherwise represented, to determine whether or not that defendant may be eligible for a reduction of sentence as a result of the revised base offense levels for crack cocaine. The Federal Public Defender will also present any motions or applications for reduction of sentence should the need arise.

If the Federal Public Defender determines that a defendant, who was previously represented by retained counsel or a Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel attorney, is potentially eligible for a reduction of sentence, the Federal Public Defender will notify the defendant and their prior counsel. If the defendant is financially unable to retain counsel or the CJA panel attorney is no longer available to provide representation or wishes to decline representation, the Federal Public Defender will be appointed to represent the defendant. If such an appointment would cause a conflict of interest, a CJA panel attorney will be appointed instead.

The United States Probation Office is authorized under the order to disclose the Presentence Investigation Report to the counsel of any defendant who might be eligible for a reduction of sentence. The Clerk’s Office will notify the Federal Public Defender of all pro se motions to reduce sentence relating to the retroactive crack cocaine amendment.

All motions and pleadings seeking a sentence reduction or opposing such a reduction are to be filed in the original criminal proceeding. If the sentencing judge in the original proceeding is no longer an actice judge in the District of Colorado, the case will be reassigned on a random basis.

Click here to read the full order from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

Tenth Circuit: No Statutory Authority that Allows Water Districts to Serve Customers Outside Their Boundaries

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Rural Water Dist. No. 4 v. City of Eudora, Kansas on Monday, September 26, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s decision. Respondent District filed suit against the Petitioner city of Eudora under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Petitioner violated Respondent’s exclusive right to provide water service to current and prospective customers in violation of 7 U.S.C. § 1926(b). A jury found that Respondent had obtained § 1926(b) protection and Petitioner had violated § 1926(b) in each of the disputed service areas. The district court then enjoined Petitioner from serving or limiting Respondent’s service to these areas. Petitioner’s appeal and Respondent’s cross-appeal followed that decision.

Because the jury instructions incorrectly framed the necessity issue, the Court reversed, vacated the judgment, and remanded “for a new trial for the limited purpose of determining whether [Respondent]’s cooperation to secure the federal guarantee [under § 1926(b)] was necessary for the purposes of its organization.” The Court also found that the burden of proving unreasonable, excessive, and confiscatory costs lies with Petitioner city and that the district court properly informed the jury that the cost of fire protection is relevant to the issue of whether Respondent’s costs of service are unreasonable, excessive and confiscatory. The Court also affirmed the district court finding that Respondent lacked the authority under state law to provide service to certain church property; “there is no indication within the statutory scheme of any authority that suggests water districts may serve customers outside their boundaries.” Lastly, “as a matter of Kansas law, an annexing municipality is not compelled to engage in some post-annexation conduct that would necessarily curtail or limit a water district’s ability to serve the annexed area. . . . “A competing municipality may, however, curtail services through threats if the threats effectively limit the water district’s ability to serve existing customers or acquire potential customers to whom it would otherwise provide service.”

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/26/11

On Monday, September 26, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and three unpublished opinions.


Lopez v. Trani

Rocha v. Zavaras

Collins v. Jordan

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