July 18, 2019

Archives for August 27, 2012

The 2012 DU Law Stars Annual Gala to Be Held Sept. 13

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law Law Stars event is just around the corner, to be held Thursday, September 13, 2012. Earlier this year, the law school named its awards recipients for the year, who will be honored at the event. Since 1993, DU Law Stars has recognized distinguished alumni and faculty for their achievements at the annual gala, which includes a light-hearted, humorous, and personal commemorative video of each honoree, recounting accomplishments both professional and personal.

This year’s awards recipients are:

Bill Keating, JD’71, Thompson G. Marsh Award:

A co-founder of the firm Keating Wagner Polidori Free, Bill has been listed in the Best Lawyers of America for more than 17 years. His strong work ethic and a love of the law and working with people has resulted in many honors including the invitations to the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, whose membership is limited to 500 Fellows in the United States and the American College of Trial Lawyers – representing less than the top one percent of lawyers in Colorado, and the U.S.  Bill has also been elected to membership in the International Society of Barristers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the Academy of Catastrophic Injury Attorneys. In 2008 he was again selected by Colorado attorneys for inclusion in Colorado Super Lawyers list, and this year included among the Top 10 Colorado Super Lawyers. He lectures locally and nationally on litigation matters and is past president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association.

Michael O’Donnell, JD’79, Outstanding Alumni Award:

Mike O’Donnell is a founder and the chairman of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell. Mike has served as national and regional counsel for a number of Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Advanced Bionics, McKesson, Boston Scientific, Pfizer, and CNA.  Mike was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and served as the chairman of its Colorado chapter for two consecutive years.  He was also elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates.  Mike is a former chairman of The Network of Trial Law Firms, a 7,000-member lawyer organization that offers continuing legal education programs on litigation topics.  Best Lawyers® lists Mike in five litigation practice areas and named him “Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year” for 2011 and “Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2012. Mike has appeared on the Colorado Super Lawyers list since its inception, including making it onto its top-ten list multiple times.  In 2011, Law Week Colorado selected Mike as one of ten “Lawyers of the Decade.” In a survey conducted by Law Week Colorado in 2010, Mike was selected by his peers as the “Best Trial Lawyer” in Colorado.   In 2008, Mike became only the seventh defense lawyer to receive an award from the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for the highest standards of competency, ethics, and professionalism.

Mary Jo Gross, JD ’79, Alumni Professionalism Award:

Mary Jo Gross is the Senior Vice President, Secretary, and Corporate Counsel of ET Investments, LLC. Mary Jo came to ET Investments from United General Title Insurance Company where she served as Vice President and Corporate Counsel. Immediately prior to joining United General, Mary Jo was General Counsel for Transwest Trucks. And prior to her in-house corporate counsel career, Mary Jo was a shareholder and director of Fairfield and Woods, P.C., a long-standing Denver law firm. Mary Jo is a past President of the Denver Bar Association and a past Chairperson of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Alumni Council.

Professor Joyce Sterling, Excellence in Teaching Award:

Joyce Sterling has devoted more than a decade to the study of the legal profession and legal education. Her recent research has focused on the problems facing women in legal careers compared to their male counterparts. Her most recent article appears in University of Texas Journal of Women and the Law (titled “Sticky Floors, Broken Steps, Concrete Ceilings in Legal Careers”.) Since 1997, Professor Sterling has been one of the co-principal investigators on the “After the JD” Study. Professor Sterling has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford Law School (Academic Year 1985-86), Visiting Professor at University of Cincinnati Law School (Fall 1990) and most recently a Visiting Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation (Academic Year 2002-2003). Professor Sterling is called upon to give lectures about gender in the legal profession. These include the keynote address to the NALP Foundation annual meeting (2004), as well as speaking at the LSAC Annual Meeting, Law Access, Association of American Law Schools, and the Law and Society Association. Professor Sterling’s teaching areas include: History of American Law, Scientific Evidence, Legal Profession (course on legal ethics), and Law and Society Seminar.

The four will be honored at the gala event on September 13, 2012 at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver. More information about the DU Law Stars can be found here.

Click here to register for the event. Click here for information about becoming a Law Stars sponsor and table sales.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 8/24/12

On Friday, August 24, 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and one unpublished opinion.

Armstrong v. Astrue

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

Secretary of State Petitions to Alter Boundaries Between Multiple State Senate and House Districts

On Friday, August 24, 2012, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to modify the boundaries between several State House districts and State Senate districts “in order to rectify a number of minor discrepancies between maps generated by the Colorado Reapportionment Commission and maps and GIS data utilized by various Colorado counties.” According to the Secretary of State, “these discrepancies have resulted in residential parcels that are split between districts, and in some cases include district boundary lines that are inconsistent with settled political boundary lines.”

In response, the Colorado Supreme Court has ordered that the parties and any interested member of the public file support or opposition briefs by August 31, 2012.

Click here to read the Secretary of State’s petition.

Click here to read the Colorado Supreme Court’s order.

Spark the Discussion: Medical Marijuana and Contracts

“Spark the Discussion” is a monthly Legal Connection column highlighting the hottest trends in the emerging field of medical marijuana law. This column is brought to you by Vicente Sederberg, LLC, a full-service, community-focused medical marijuana law firm.

By Brian Vicente, Esq. and Rachelle Yeung

If a contract is found to be valid under state law, one would assume a judge would order that both parties must carry out their legal obligations under that agreement.  However, one judge in Arapahoe County recently argued that this basic principle of contract law doesn’t apply to our state’s newest licensed businesses—if they sell medical marijuana.

Over a period of several months in 2010, a medical marijuana grower delivered approximately $40,000 worth of product to Blue Sky Care Connection, a regulated dispensary in Littleton. Blue Sky promised to compensate the grower either in cash or with a share of a potential business partnership. When Blue Sky did not follow through with either, the grower sued.

The judge quickly determined that the parties had indeed entered into a valid contract – applying a simple analysis from his first year law school days (offer, acceptance, and consideration). However, the Court complicated the straightforward dispute by inquiring sua sponte whether the contract should be found unenforceable for being against public policy.

The Court went on to reason that, despite medical marijuana being legal according to Colorado Law, the sale of medical marijuana is against public policy because it violates federal law. Though the Court’s analysis could have reasonably stopped there, it goes beyond the “case and controversy” and further finds that federal law preempts Colorado’s medical marijuana law.

Because this opinion was issued by a district court, its ruling is not binding. However, the opinion has left many within the medical marijuana industry wondering how far-reaching its effects could be. Does this opinion find that only this particular contract for this particular sale of medical marijuana was unenforceable? Or can it be expanded to be read that all contracts for the sale of medical marijuana are unenforceable? Or that all contracts related to medical marijuana are unenforceable?  This last scenario would effectively dismantle a regulated industry that both the Colorado legislature and the Colorado Department of Revenue have been carefully building for the past several years.

The people of Colorado voiced their opinion on the public policy of the state in support of medical marijuana in 2000, by the democratic adoption of Amendment 20. The legislative and executive branches further endorsed public policy in favor of medical marijuana by enacting and signing HB 10-1284, the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, in 2010.  This Code, and implementing legislation and regulations, accounts for well over one hundred pages of strict rules governing every stage of transaction—from seed to sale—for these Colorado businesses.

Shockingly, the judge’s opinion failed to take into account the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, which became effective July 2, 2010 – approximately one week after the grower made the first of several deliveries to Blue Sky. The Code actually requires certain legal relationships between growers and medical marijuana centers that would not be possible without enforceable contracts. Substantive issues aside, the fact that the Court fails to consider the most relevant piece of law in its analysis leaves one questioning the incomplete legal framework of the opinion.

There are currently seventeen states with medical marijuana laws.  Massachusetts, Arkansas, and North Dakota are primed to pass similar laws this November. Hopefully, one state judge’s hastily drafted opinion won’t pave the way to dismantle these compassionate-use laws.

Brian Vicente, Esq., is a founding member of Vicente Consulting, LLC, a law firm providing legal solutions for the medical marijuana community. He also serves as executive director of Sensible Colorado, the state’s leading non-profit working for medical marijuana patients and providers. Brian is the chair of the Denver Mayor’s Marijuana Policy Review Panel, serves on the Colorado Department of Revenue Medical Marijuana Oversight Panel, and coordinates the Colorado Bar Association’s Drug Policy Project.

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.