June 20, 2019

Archives for June 5, 2014

Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans Honored as DBA Outstanding Program

This is Part 2 of a series of posts about the DBA Award winners (for Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here; for Part 3, click here; for Part 4, click here; and for Part 5, click here). The article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Docket.

When John Vaught returned home from Vietnam, something was missing: support from his fellow Americans.

Fast forward decades and a law school education later to Vaught’s involvement with Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans (CLCV). Determined to provide the support he didn’t get for those who have served our country, Vaught approached Mark Fogg (then CBA President) about creating a veterans affairs program. As it turns out, Chief Justice Bender was working on a similar idea. So, several factors and ideas converged, and Vaught and Ben Currier, the CBA YLD Chair at the time, were tasked with getting CLCV started.

Their immediate mission was to form clinics around the state where CBA volunteer lawyers could meet with veterans who needed legal assistance but couldn’t afford it. Now, there are nine clinics around Colorado, and the initial program concept has expanded to form the CBA Military & Veterans Affairs Section. The members of that section are responsible not only for maintaining and improving the clinics, but also for developing other ways to help veterans in the community.

Since its inception in 2011, the CLCV clinics have served more than 400 veterans and assigned 175 pro bono cases to volunteer lawyers. Common legal topics addressed include VA benefits, landlord–tenant issues and domestic issues. Lawyers across the state have been instrumental in volunteering their time to participate in these clinics and help veterans. Sometimes, all that’s needed is 15 minutes of advice or legal direction, while other times a pro bono case or reduced-free relationship is arranged. Any way you look at it, CLCV is a highly valuable program that’s helping to unite our community.

“There’s a huge satisfaction in helping,” Vaught says, “in reaching out to these people and saying ‘I get it, I understand what you’ve been through. I welcome you home and want to try to help you in a real way.”

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 6/5/2014

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued six published opinions and 21 unpublished opinions.

People v. Hankins

People v. Trujillo

People v. Lanari

Armed Forces Bank, N.A. v. Hicks

Sinclair Transportation Co. v. Sandberg

Sinclair Transportation Co. v. Sandberg

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Volunteers Needed for Denver Public Schools Adult Self-Sufficiency Programs

The Mile High United Way, Denver Public Schools, and the Denver Bar Association are collaborating to implement Adult Self-Sufficiency service programs for the Denver Public School community. DPS has chosen to implement the Adult Self-Sufficiency programs to ensure that families receive the services they need to be economically self-sufficient and support their children’s learning. Each program site is picked based on high-need neighborhoods where a greater-than-average percentage of families qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch. Studies have shown that parental or guardian financial instability and family mobility because of financial instability often make it difficult for students to stay on track academically.

The first program site will be College View Elementary at 2675 South Decatur Street in Denver.  We are looking for family law attorneys to provide a 20 minute phone consultation on domestic issues to parents at College View Elementary. For more information, contact Meghan Bush at (303) 824-5303 or mbush@cobar.org.

Tenth Circuit: First Amendment Retaliation Claims Fail when Additional Grounds Exist for Termination

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Trant v. State of Oklahoma on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

Dr. Collie Trant became Oklahoma’s Chief Medical Examiner during a time when the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was recovering from several scandals. Trant was soon terminated by the Board of Medicolegal Investigations. He filed suit in Oklahoma state court, alleging First Amendment retaliation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, breach of implied contract, and violation of the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act. The case was voluntarily removed to federal court. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants on the First Amendment retaliation claim, dismissed the breach of implied contract claim for failure to state a claim under Oklahoma law, and dismissed the Open Meetings Act claim for lack of standing. Trant then appealed to the Tenth Circuit.

The Tenth Circuit first addressed the summary judgment on the First Amendment retaliation claims. Trant asserted that he was terminated for statements made by him and his attorney threatening to reveal information to authorities regarding the grand jury investigation of the prior scandals. The Tenth Circuit applied the Garcetti/Pickering analysis and concluded that, because the Board had several legitimate reasons for terminating him and would have terminated him regardless of whether the protected statements were made, Trant did not meet his burden and summary judgment for the Board was appropriate.

Trant had also alleged that three other people took retaliatory actions against him because of his protected speech. However, the Tenth Circuit analyzed each individual and determined that no impropriety occurred.

Next, the Tenth Circuit evaluated Trant’s claims regarding the violation of the Open Meetings Act. He  sought a declaratory judgment that his termination was invalid because of the Board’s failure to comply with the Open Meetings Act. On this point, the Tenth Circuit reversed the dismissal and remanded the case to the district court to determine whether Oklahoma waived its immunity from liability.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the First Amendment retaliation claims, affirmed dismissal of the breach of implied contract claims, and reversed and remanded the dismissal of the Open Meetings Act claims.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/5/2014

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

United States v. Chavira-Nunez

Haik v. Salt Lake City Corporation

Quintero v. Colvin

Adams v. Berkebile

Erikson v. BP Exploration & Production Inc.

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.