June 26, 2019

Archives for November 4, 2011

Colorado Lawyers Step Up for Colorado Veterans

 By Benjamin Currier & John Vaught

Access to justice for all Americans is an issue that is constantly evolving in an effort to meet the needs of those who cannot afford traditional legal services. With governmental budgets and outreach programs being pared, the communities that most rely on pro bono legal services are compelled to turn to individuals and to private initiatives to meet their ever-expanding need. Some groups have enjoyed success and are gaining access to justice through innovative means, but many have not. Among this latter group are our military veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families.

In an attempt to meet the needs of Colorado veterans and service members, the Colorado Bar Association is developing a statewide pro bono legal services initiative to provide legal service to Colorado veterans, some active duty service members, and their families— Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans. This program is structured to provide free legal advice through clinics held around the state and also provide pro bono and low fee legal services to individuals who require further help.

Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans will begin the first of many free clinics on Nov. 11 in Denver and Colorado Springs, and on Nov. 10 in Fort Collins.

It is estimated that one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans, and a vast number of other veterans also are in need of legal help but unable to afford and receive the assistance they desperately require. Many national reserve, retired, or otherwise discharged veterans do not have access to legal services. Active duty service members receive some assistance from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps; however, many still have legal issues and problems that are not met by the current active duty legal services and do not have the resources to afford legal services to solve their problems. Because of this, Colorado attorneys and the CBA are reaching out to help veterans with their legal needs and problems.

This program is consistent with the recommendations made by the Chief Justice Michael Bender, as part of the Chief Justice’s Commission on the Legal Profession. Modeled after a similar program in Texas, it is being led by a joint collaboration between the Commission, CBA President-elect Mark Fogg, John Vaught, CBA Young Lawyers Division Chair Benjamin Currier, CBA Executive Director Chuck Turner, and staff members of the DBA and CBA, including Carolyn Gravit, Heather Clark, and Denise Lynch.

The Denver event is scheduled to be held at the Bo Matthews Center, at 3030 Downing St., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This initial Denver event will be staffed by law students, young lawyers, and other Colorado attorneys. In addition to these volunteers, a Colorado-based service organization called Challenge America will be present to help guide veterans through the maze of other benefits available to them. This highly anticipated event is the first of many steps to try to serve the needs of Colorado veterans, one veteran at a time.

We are currently searching for volunteers to assist for future clinics across the state. We also are looking for individuals who are willing to take on pro bono and low fee cases to help veterans in need. If you are interested in helping, please contact Carolyn Gravit at cgravit@cobar.org. We look forward to seeing you and helping with this new and exciting effort to provide pro bono legal services to Colorado veterans and service members.

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: Petitioner Established Issue of Material Fact Present in ADA Violation Claim; Summary Judgment Not Appropriate

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Carter v. Pathfinder Energy Services, Inc. on Thursday, November 3, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s decision. Petitioner began working as a directional driller for Respondent employer in 2004. Two years later, after his declining health had caused a reduction in his workload, Respondent fired Petitioner for “’gross misconduct’ based primarily on an altercation that he had had with a coworker and his language and attitude during a conversation with his supervisor.” Petitioner then sued Respondent, alleging that his employer had violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). He also alleged that Respondent had breached his implied-in-fact employment contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondent on all three claims.

The Court agreed with the district court’s grant of summary judgment on all issues except for the alleged ADA violation. For the ADA claim, Petitioner “must show that, at the time he was fired, (1) he was a disabled person as defined by the ADA; (2) he was qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform the essential functions of his job; and (3) he was fired because of his disability.” The Court was convinced that Petitioner has established that a genuine dispute of material fact exists as to all three elements to allow the claim to survive a motion for summary judgment.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/3/11

On Thursday, November 3, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and nine unpublished opinions.

Unpublished

United States v. Lehi

Williams v. Clay County Police Dep’t

Nagim v. Equifax Info. Services, LLP

Tijerina, Sr. v. Patterson

Cody Labs., Inc. v. Sebelius

Syrus v. Bennett

United States v. Gutierrez

Roberson v. Rudek

Yellowbear, Jr. v. Attorney General of Wyoming

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Week of October 30, 2011 (No Published Opinions)

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and twenty-one unpublished opinions for the week of October 30, 2011.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. Case announcements are available here.

Tenth Circuit: Reasonable Officer Could Believe Caregiver Had Information Regarding Location of Elderly Woman, and Refusal to Convey Information Was Obstruction

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Koch v. City of Del City on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. In 2004, Petitioner assumed control over the property and care of an elderly woman, Gladys Lance. Ms. Lance’s niece became concerned about her aunt’s welfare and, in 2005, when she could no longer locate Ms. Lance, she obtained an order from an Oklahoma state court appointing her as Ms. Lance’s special guardian. Several days later, Respondent, an officer of the Del City Police Department, was told by his supervisor that a “pickup” order had been issued for Ms. Lance, and that he should go to Ms. Koch’s residence to check on Ms. Lance. When he did, he encountered Petitioner on her front doorstep. He asked Petitioner where Ms. Lance was located, but Petitioner refused to tell him, instead telling him to leave her property and talk to her attorney. When Petitioner persisted in her non-responsiveness and turned to leave, Respondent arrested her for obstruction. Petitioner sued the officer and the city, alleging claims for false arrest and excessive force. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondent, concluding that he was entitled to qualified immunity.

The Court agreed with the district court’s conclusions. The Court held that, only in this case, “a reasonable officer could believe that [Petitioner] had information regarding Ms. Lance’s location, that under the circumstances [Petitioner] was required to convey this information, and thus that her refusal to do so constituted obstruction.” Additionally, the evidence indicates on its face that Petitioner’s “injuries were de minimis. [Petitioner] therefore cannot make out an excessive-force claim, and thus cannot show that [the officer] violated a constitutional right.”

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/2/11

On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

Unpublished

Chen v. Holder, Jr.

Slocum v. Corporate Express US Inc.

Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Union Ins. Co.

Ciempa v. Standifird

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