June 26, 2019

Archives for October 12, 2012

Pro Bono Opportunity: Fourth Judicial District Seeks Attorneys to Represent Indigent Parties

On Wednesday, October 3, 2012, the Fourth Judicial District issued a Request for the Provision of Legal Services to Represent Indigent Parties in Child Support Contempt Problem Solving Court (Responsible Parent Program). The goal of the Responsible Parent Program is to assist a child support obligor in overcoming barriers to paying child support and to develop payment plans for support in arrears.

Attorneys selected for this program will be paid by the Judicial Department pursuant to Chief Justice Directive 04-04. Qualified attorneys are those who have been actively licensed in Colorado for five years, preferably with significant experience in domestic relations; maintain professional liability insurance; have adequate staff to support the representation; agree to represent the obligor until the contempt is resolved; are available for weekly meetings; and agree to attend training.

More information and directions for application may be found here.

Anthony Navarro Appointed to Colorado Court of Appeals

On Friday, October 12, 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Anthony Navarro of Denver to the Colorado Court of Appeals. His appointment will be effective November 3, 2012.

Since 2010, Mr. Navarro has served as the Supervisory Attorney and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Social Security Administration’s Office of General Counsel. Prior to this, he was Assistant Regional Counsel/Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Social Security Administration, and he also worked at Holland & Hart in the commercial litigation practice group.

Mr. Navarro will fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Hon. Robert Russel, whose resignation is effective November 3, 2012.

Water, Culture, and Politics: Justice Hobbs Speaks for UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art Event

On Thursday, October 11, 2012, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs presented on water and poetry for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Gallery of Contemporary Art’s “H20: Water, Culture, & Politics” lecture series. Justice Hobbs spoke about the sacred importance of water and read some of his poetry aloud.

Justice Hobbs’ presentation occurred with the installation of a contemporary art piece, “Rain Machine.” To hear an audio clip of Justice Hobbs’ presentation and to see the art piece, click here.

CBA-CLE Business Law Institute with Plenary Speakers Tom Clark and Nat Stoddard

The CBA-CLE 2012 Business Law Institute is happening on October 18-19 at the Four Seasons Denver. The Business Law Institute will feature Tom Clark, CEO, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, who will present on “Denver’s Economic Climate and Business Outlook,” and Nat Stoddard, Chairman, Crenshaw Associates, New York, who will discuss “M&A Risk Reduction, Post-Deal Integration Success and Long-Term Value Recognition for You and Your Clients.”

Tom Clark is Chief Executive Officer of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and the Executive Vice President of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. He has more than 30 years of economic development experience at the state, regional, county and city levels. Tom’s career spans four decades from Director of Commercial and Industrial Development for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, through positions with the Fort Collins, Colorado Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Denver Corporation, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson Economic Council, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. Tom was the founder and first president of the Metro Denver Network, the Metro Denver region’s first economic development program, for which he received the Arthur D. Little Award for Excellence in Economic Development. He was chosen as one of the nation’s top economic development professionals by the Council on Urban Economic Development.

Nat Stoddard is the author of The Right Leader: Selecting Executives Who Fit, which establishes the importance of cultural fit between companies and leaders. The Right Leader shows how companies can reduce the risks and costs of leadership failure by defining their culture and picking leaders with cultural fit in mind. Nat leads the Forward Assessment Consulting™ practice at Crenshaw Associates, serves as an Advisor to CEOs and Lead Directors/Board Chairs, and is an Executive Mentor to Transition Clients. Nat is the former Chairman, President, and CEO of several public and private companies ranging from $300M to $1B including World Kitchen, Camco (GE’s Canadian affiliate) and Garden Way, Inc. He holds an MBA from the University of Denver and a BS from Denison University.

The Business Law Institute will also feature an exceptional faculty of over twenty leading Colorado business law practitioners includes general counsel from top Colorado companies, experienced business attorneys from Colorado law firms, and professors from the University of Colorado Law School and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The institute also offers two tracks this year, a Basics Track for attorneys newer to business law, and an Advanced Track for the more experienced practitioner. For the complete agenda and faculty, go to: http://business.annualcle.com/.

Pro Bono Services at the Core of Professionalism

This article appeared in the October issue of The Docket, the Denver Bar Association’s official publication.

Several months ago, the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations’ Professionalism Coordinating Council created, and the DBA and CBA adopted, the Principles of Professionalism. The principles include such characteristics of professionalism as mentoring, civility, integrity, honesty, candor, and the provision of pro bono services.

Practicing with professionalism brings its own rewards. The greatest reward is the self-satisfaction of having acted in a manner where a lawyer’s dignity has been maintained—and it actually generates monetary rewards. In most law practices, client generation is still a function of referrals. Practicing with professionalism carries its monetary reward also, being a prime underpinning of rainmaking. It is rare that I have heard a former client or another lawyer suggest a referral based on how nasty, discourteous, or unprofessional a lawyer is known to act.

Volunteering to provide pro bono services epitomizes professionalism and provides a positive, concrete display of the generosity of this honorable profession. For me, the most memorable representation of my own career was a pro bono matter.

It was Christmas Eve. I had opened my own office not long before.

In walked Jesus Morales (whose last name I have changed to protect confidentiality). How it was that Jesus found my office is still a mystery. My office was located in a rather ivory tower location in the Denver Tech Center in the penthouse of the building, with only a private elevator to access my space. As those of you who have wandered, lost in the Tech Center, know, it is hard to end up at a location accidently. Fate was at work.

Jesus was a Mexican-American in his mid-40s. After the introduction, we all too often hear—”I don’t know if you can help me, but …”—he proceeded to tell me that his mother was living in the same house in which he was born 47 years ago.

His father was the bread winner of the family but he had passed away about four years earlier and his mother, who spent her life at home raising her family, had encountered financial difficulties. Prior to Jesus’ father’s death, his mother and father had refinanced the loan on their house. When his now-widowed mother was unable to make the payments, the mortgage loan went into default and foreclosure proceedings had commenced. Desperate, his mother found a company that advertised on TV it could provide assistance to stop a foreclosure. She took out (or so she thought) a new loan from the company to pay off the defaulted loan. His mother was to make monthly payments for five months and then pay the balance at the end of the sixth month. Now, Jesus said, his mother was just served with a notice of eviction from the company. When he called, Jesus was told the company “owned” the property and his mother needed to be out—immediately.

What else could I do? The mother of Jesus was being dispossessed of her home on Christmas Eve! I responded that not only would I attempt to help, but I also would do so pro bono. I scheduled for Jesus to return after Christmas and to bring what documents he had relating to the loan.

The documents revealed, despite her emphatic insistence that the company had “loaned” her the money to cure her previous mortgage default, that she had sold her home for $40,000 (the home was valued at $200,000); she had “leased” it back from the company for five months; and the company granted her an option to buy the home back for $100,000 at the end of the six months. Upon further checking with the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, indeed she had executed a deed at the time of being provided the $40,000. She was insistent that she never sold them the house; she believed what she was signing were loan papers to borrow the money she needed and she would have six months to pay them back.

It all ends well. I filed a suit for declaratory judgment and reformation of the deed asking the court to re-characterize the transaction as a disguised mortgage loan. A transaction, which truly is a disguised mortgage device, is to be treated as a mortgage and requires foreclosure affording the “borrower” rights to cure and (when this matter arose) rights of redemption. Further, as a loan, the consideration of $100,000 to pay off a $40,000 loan six months later constituted usury. The company, represented by other brethren of the DBA and exemplars of professionalism themselves, assisted in formulating a new transaction that allowed Jesus’ mother to continue to enjoy her family homestead.

Over the years, I have provided legal assistance on some of the largest, most complicated and sophisticated real estate transactions this state has produced. None provided the warmth, the welling in my eyes, and the pride as providing this pro bono representation. Occasionally, in the morning while standing in front of my bathroom sink when I happen to recall the representation, the guy in the mirror looks a whole lot better to me.

The DBA may be the greatest resource for filling your own need to find a suitable pro bono matter. Metro Volunteer Lawyers, the DBA’s premier program, coordinates the provision of free and low-cost civil legal services to people in the Denver metro area. MVL serves people who are living at or below federal poverty guidelines. The majority of cases are domestic relations matters. For more information, visit metrovolunteerlawyers.org.

The DBA sponsors clinics on bankruptcy and family law for the public, for which volunteers are needed to assist with presentations. For more information, contact Meghan Bush at mbush@cobar.org. The Colorado Bar Association has recently established a very successful program to assist veterans, including a clinic in Denver. For more information, contact Carolyn Gravit at cgravit@cobar.org. In May, the DBA launched the Pro Bono Initiative. This initiative is designed to pair lawyers with one of the many pro bono service projects, based on the interests of the lawyer. To take advantage of the Pro Bono Initiative, please fill out the form available at bit.ly/PBIForm and return it to Carolyn Gravit at cgravit@cobar.org.

Jim Benjamin is the manager of the real estate and business transactional department of Benjamin, Bain, Howard & Cohen, LLC. A past President of the Real Estate Section of the Colorado Bar Association, Jim has served on the Executive Council of the Real Estate Section for more than two decades. Currently, he is a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Board of Governors and the Legislative Policy Committee. He is a former member of the Ethics Committee. He also is the President of the Denver Bar Association for the 2012-2013 term. He has been on the Denver Bar Association’s Board of Trustees and one of three members of the DBA Executive Council since 2010. Jim has been named as a Colorado Super Lawyer® in real estate law every year since the inception of the list in 2006.
Jim is a frequent lecturer for continuing legal education programs on substantive areas of real estate law and ethics for transactional lawyers. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Bradford Publishing’s book on Colorado real estate forms. The book covers purchase and sale agreements, listing agreements, 1031 tax deferred exchanges, deeds of trust, promissory notes, leases, easements, closing documents, forcible entry and detainer and mechanics’ liens. Jim is frequently retained as an expert witness to provide opinions and advice on complex real estate law matters pending in Court proceedings and also on the standards of care required by lawyers in representation on real estate transactional matters. In 1991, he founded the law firm of Benjamin & Associates, PC, which is now Benjamin, Bain, Howard & Cohen, LLC. Jim is currently a manager of the firm.

Tenth Circuit: Courts Must Accept Executive Branch’s Determination of Foreign Heads of State’s Immunity

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Habyarimana v. Kagame on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

The widows of the former presidents of Rwanda and Burundi allege current Rwandan President Paul Kagame is responsible for their husbands’ deaths. The former presidents were killed when the plane they were in was shot down. This incident sparked the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The widows filed suit in Oklahoma federal court seeking to hold Kagame liable under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, the Torture Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2340A, the Racketeeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962, and several other state and international laws. The executive branch of the United States filed a “Suggestion of Immunity” on behalf of President Kagame as a sitting foreign head of state. The district court dismissed the case based on this immunity. In affirming the district court, the Tenth Circuit held that a “determination by the Executive Branch that a foreign head of state is immune from suit is conclusive and a court must accept such a determination without reference to the underlying claims of a plaintiff.” This is so even though the acts complained of occurred before Kagame was head of state.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/10/12

On Wednesday, October 10, 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and ten unpublished opinions.

Sheldon v. Khanal

United States v. Alvarado

United States v. Maschino

Morton v. Progressive Northern Ins. Co.

Wilson v. Bezona

United States v. Sullivan

Wishneski v. Dona Ana County

United States v. Cardenas-Uriarte

Cook v. Eastern Savings Bank, FSB

United States v. Williams

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

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/11/12

On Thursday, October 11, 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and six unpublished opinions.

Hall v. Ezell

Crosby v. Heil

Lymon v. Aramark Corp.

Felts v. City of Dodge City

United States v. Caldwell

Herrod v. Wilshire Ins. Co.

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