August 24, 2019

Archives for October 13, 2014

Is There a Better Exit Strategy Than Death?—Part II: The Interviews: Anonymous—”Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”[1]

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the September 2014 issue of The Colorado Lawyer. This is the final part of a 5-part series on Legal Connection. Click here for Part 1, click here for Part 2, click here for Part 3, and click here for Part 4.

By Ronald M. Sandgrund, Esq., InQ.

InQ: Anonymous is a well-respected litigation lawyer who has toiled at the bar for more than thirty-five years. About a year ago, this lawyer told me excitedly how she had arranged to retire in 2014, and about the many passions she was set to pursue come that golden day. Everyone in her life was on board and the smoothly planned transition was set to begin January 1. However, despite all her planning, the earnest cooperation of her partners, and the support of her family and friends, unexpected road blocks cropped up, driven in large part by her law firm’s sudden recognition that it needed her litigating and managerial talents for a while longer—although how much longer remains unclear. Anonymous did note the following in passing to me in an e-mail:

AnonAnonymous: I suspect the article will have its critics—the ones who die sitting at their desks, thinking that anyone who doesn’t is a coward.

InQ: Anonymous promised me that her exit strategy would not involve her desk.


This article examined what a handful of lawyers had to say about exploring exit strategies in their own lives. Some common themes emerged. First, greater fulfillment likely is waiting for you beyond the “Exit” sign, whenever you might choose to go through that door. Second, “marry well,” meaning, find a significant other who shares your life’s vision and supports your efforts to find contentment. Of course, some of us prefer to fly solo, and there is no reason these folks cannot be equally fulfilled. Finally, don’t “live large”; moderate your accumulation of material things and unnecessary debt, so that you are freer to change your trajectory, reprioritize your life, and find even greater happiness.


InQ: Brian, tell us a little bit about yourself?

BrianCBrian C.: I am 12 and in sixth grade.

InQ: What do you think a lawyer should do who has spent four years in college and three years in law school, and who has been a lawyer for several years, but who then realizes that he or she doesn’t really like being lawyer?

Brian C.: Well, maybe before going to law school, they studied something else—maybe they could switch to that.

InQ: But what if they’ve been practicing ten to fifteen years, and they’ve bought a big house that they owe a lot of money on and they’ve had a couple kids, and they still owe money for law school loans. If they switched jobs, they would probably make a lot less money and would have to give up the house, and their kids might have to move away from their friends and not be able to take fun vacations like they used to.

Brian C.: They need to take a job where they will be happy. A house or nice vacations only make you happy for a little while, but having a job you like has a big impact. Your job should be fun, and you do better at a job you enjoy. If you are an unhappy lawyer, I think you will not be a good lawyer.

InQ: What do you mean by happy? What is happiness?

Brian C.: Being liked and loved.

InQ: Is there anything about your parents’ jobs that you don’t like?

Brian C.: Well, my dad is gone for two weeks, then home for two to four weeks, then gone again. That’s his schedule.

InQ: How does that work for you?

Brian C.: It’s okay. I see him on Skype, which is fun. It’s hard when he misses a big event or a holiday. Like this past Easter. He wasn’t home, so we just acted like it was a regular day.

InQ: What if you were the mommy or daddy who was the lawyer, and you were going to take a new job, and this meant losing all the things we just talked about—the house, the vacations, and so on. How would you explain this to your kids?

Brian C.: I’d just tell them that we’re starting over—that things will be different, but that there always are fun things to do in the world. They can still see their old friends and they’ll make new friends.

InQ: I hear that you played in five tournament baseball games this past weekend. What if you had to give up tournament baseball as part of your parent’s job change? How would you react?

Brian C.: I would try to act nice and understanding. I know they would not want me to have to give up tournament baseball, but they had no choice because they don’t like their job. I don’t want them to be doing something every day they do not like. We can still have fun.

[1] Michael Corleone,Godfather Part III.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Impermissibly Usurped Jury’s Role in Finding Facts

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Jaso on Thursday, October 9, 2014.

Civil Protection Order—Domestic Violence—Sixth Amendment—Habitual Offender—Jury.

A.K. received a civil protection order against defendant after he attacked her while she was holding her infant son. The orderprevented defendant from contacting A.K. directly or through a third person except by use of text message. After defendant sent A.K. a letter addressed to their minor son through a fellow inmate at the county jail where he was in custody, he was charged with violation of the protection order, a class 1 misdemeanor, and a habitual domestic violence offender sentence enhancer (HDVO statute), a class 5 felony.

The jury convicted defendant of the charged misdemeanor. Thereafter, the court held a trial on the habitual charge. First, the court determined that the violation of the protection order was an act of domestic violence. Second, the court concluded that the prosecution had proved that defendant had previously been convicted three times of domestic-violence-related crimes. Pursuant to the HDVO statute, the trial court convicted defendant of a class 5 felony and sentenced him to thirty months in the custody of the Department of Corrections.

On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. “The Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution require that any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the statutory maximum, except the fact of a prior conviction, must be submitted to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Here, because the trial court and not the jury found the facts necessary to sentence defendant as a habitual offender, it violated his Sixth Amendment rights. Accordingly, the judgment of conviction was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court for entry of judgment of conviction and resentencing on a class 1 extraordinary risk misdemeanor.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Prejudicial Effect of Other Bad Act Evidence Outweighed Possible Relevance

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Brown on Thursday, October 9, 2014.

Stalking—Surveillance—Other Acts Evidence—Expert.

Defendant asked a woman he knew to “house sit” his apartment for six months while he worked in South Korea. Before he left, and without the house sitter’s knowledge, defendant set up motion-sensitive video cameras in the apartment’s bedroom and living room. The house sitter discovered the cameras about twelve days after she moved in. Some of the recordings showed the house sitter having sex with her boyfriend. A jury convicted defendant of two counts each of stalking, invasion of privacy, and unlawful sexual contact.

On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it “admitted other act evidence of an unrelated sexual encounter involving another individual.” The prosecution’s offer of proof alleged that a woman who had rented a room to defendant awoke one night to find him crouched near her bed, wearing only his underwear, and masturbating while watching her. The woman’s trial testimony was significantly different from the prosecution’s offer of proof. At trial, she stated that she awoke because defendant had touched her “underneath the covers in [her] crotch.”The woman’s description at trial was qualitatively different, more severe, and more inflammatory than the evidence concerning the charged offenses. Therefore, her testimony was inadmissible pursuant to CRE 403 and the trial court erred by admitting such evidence. Because there was a reasonable probability that the error contributed to defendant’s convictions by substantially influencing the verdict or impairing the trial’s fairness, the convictions were reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

Defendant also contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it excluded the psychologist’s testimony concerning the charge of unlawful sexual contact. Defendant sought to admit testimony by a psychologist who performed a sex-offense-specific evaluation of defendant. The psychologist’s report found that (1) defendant had a sexual interest consistent with the interests of the general adult male population of the United States, and (2) defendant’s interest in voyeurism was not significant enough to classify him as abnormal. Because the evidence was relevant to the charge of unlawful sexual contact, the court abused its discretion in excluding such testimony. The trial court should allow defendant to present such evidence on retrial.

Defendant further argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for stalking. Defendant’s use of the cameras constituted surveillance, which supported the stalking charge.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Merely Identifying Group to Which Excluded Juror Belonged Not Enough for Batson Challenge

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Morales on Thursday, October 9, 2014.

Sexual Assault—Jury Selection—BatsonChallenge—Penetration—Evidence—Double Jeopardy.

The evidence presented at trial showed that, on the night of the charged assault, the victim, 16-year-old B.R., attended a party at the apartment of an acquaintance. B.R. became intoxicated and eventually fell asleep in a bedroom. B.R. woke up with Morales, A.R.’s step-father, kissing her, touching her, and placing his penis on her. Someone turned on the lights in the room when B.R. began screaming at Morales and alleging that he had tried to rape her. A jury convicted him of multiple charges of sexual assault.

On appeal, Morales first sought a limited remand for the trial court to make a better record on the third step of his Batson challenge [Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986)]. Merely identifying cognizable groups to which the excluded juror might have belonged is insufficient, without more, to establish a prima facie showing of purposeful discrimination. Here, a remand was unnecessary, because the court properly determined that Morales failed to make a prima facieshowing of discrimination at step 1 of the Batson analysis.

Morales also contended that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that he committed the crime of sexual assault because there was no sexual penetration. Sexual assault in violation of CRS §18-3-402 requires the knowing infliction of either sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim. Here, the prosecution presented evidence that Morales performed cunnilingus on B.R. The evidence was therefore sufficient to support Morales’s convictions for sexual assault, and the jury was properly instructed as to these definitions.

Morales further argued that one of his convictions must be vacated to comport with the prohibition against double jeopardy. Specifically, he claims that he should not stand convicted and sentenced for both the felony sexual assault and attempted felony sexual assault because the actions underlying both convictions constitute a single crime. All of the sexual conduct Morales inflicted on B.R. occurred within five minutes or less, with no break in between the different sexual acts. There was no evidence of intervening events. Because Morales’s separate convictions for felony sexual assault and attempted felony sexual assault violated double jeopardy principles, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to merge the charges into a single conviction.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

What to Do Now That You’ve Passed the Bar Exam

dba logoEditor’s note: There are several ways to become a licensed attorney in Colorado. This article is targeted to those Class C applicants who passed the Colorado bar examination.  If you are waived on a motion or have taken the Uniform Bar Exam and been cleared, click here for more information on your next steps.

Congratulations! You’ve passed the bar! Here are some next steps you should take while you wait to be admitted to practice law.

Complete your admission requirements and become familiar with helpful resources available to you

Even though you’ve passed the bar, you’re not quite a lawyer yet.  You still have a few more steps before you can become a full-fledged ESQ.

Visit the Employment Ads

You’re (almost) a lawyer! Time to find a job and start your legal career. New jobs from around the state are posted daily to the Colorado Bar Association’s employment webpage and via CBA’s twitter account. You can search for jobs and set up alerts so that new positions go straight to your inbox.

If you’re hoping to hang your own shingle, be sure to check out the CBA’s Law Practice Management Department’s resources and sign up for the Solo Small Firm Section.

Start Networking

Denver’s legal community is large, but there are many ways to network.  Check out the Denver Young Lawyers Division to join a smaller community of attorneys new to the practice of law, or attend DBA events to meet attorneys from different practice areas. DBA also offers 16 committees and myriad volunteer opportunities, which makes connecting with people in your practice area easy. Don’t forget to connect with DBA members and other new attorneys on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

Write for The Docket and the DBA Young Lawyers blog

Be an active voice in the legal community! We know you have something to say, and we invite you to say it in The Docket and the Young Lawyers blog. Send an email to with your ideas. Writing for The Docket or the blog is a great way to get your name out there and to show knowledge on your résumé and  LinkedIn.


Now is the time to begin celebrating. Spend some time with your dog! Call your mom! Toast with some friends! Cheers to you—passing the bar exam is a huge accomplishment, and you did it!

Candidates who took the July 2014 bar exam will learn whether they passed the exam in early October via the Colorado Supreme Court’s website.


By Heather Clark, the communications and marketing director for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, and managing editor of The Docket. She can be reached at

Notary Program Rules Amended by Secretary of State

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, the Colorado Secretary of State gave notice of the permanent adoption of changes to the notary rules. The changes are extensive, including new requirements for exam-taking for new notaries and those subject to claims of misconduct; new guidelines for electronic notarization; requirements for notary trainers; and more. A redline of the changes is available here.


Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/10/2014

On Friday, October 10, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and three unpublished opinions.

United States v. Estrada

United States v. Grigsby

United States v. Rice

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