August 22, 2019

Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame to Host Women in the Law Event

cwhf_669logo_2012On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame will host a Law Day Event, “Celebrating Colorado Women: Women in the Law.” The event will take place at the Denver Public Library from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with an optional guided tour of the Ralph J. Carr Justice Center’s Learning Center and Library from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The agenda features a panel discussion on journeys to the bench with Chief Justice Nancy Rice of the Colorado Supreme Court, Chief Judge Marcia Krieger of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Judge Christine Arguello of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, and retired Justice Jean Dubofsky of the Colorado Supreme Court, moderated by retired Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey. Following the panel discussion will be recognitions of Judge Marcia Krieger and Justice Nancy Rice.

Registration is now open for this event. There is no cost for attending, but registration is limited. Click here to register.

Law Day 2014: American Democracy and the Rule of Law — Why Every Vote Matters

ChrisBryanIn honor of Law Day, this article will be circulated to all local bar leaders. We encourage you to distribute it to your local media and any other interested parties as well.

By Christopher Bryan

Colorado, like the rest of the United States, celebrates Law Day on May 1. The American Bar Association has designated today as Law Day to draw attention to facets of our justice system and constitutional form of government. The 2014 theme is “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.”

Here in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, and in western Colorado generally, we know first-hand the importance of every single vote. Small towns—whether in Colorado’s resort communities or in more rural areas—have had numerous elections decided by a few votes or even a single vote. We know that voter turnout matters not only to determine who our elected leaders will be but also because a highly engaged citizenry that votes and participates in representative democracy means stronger communities, more robust ideas, and, ultimately, a better future for everyone.

Protecting citizens’ right to vote and ensuring eligible voters’ universal access to the ballot are among the most important tasks of our legal system, and they are tasks that many people in our community are involved with—from city staff, county clerks, and elected officials, to the election commissioners, poll watchers, and election judges who volunteer their time to ensure proper elections. Watchdog organizations, lawyers’ committees, and civil liberties groups are also important in ensuring legal access to the ballot for everyone, including minorities and under-served populations, and for the orderly administration of processing elections. And, of course, everything depends on voters being well-informed about candidates and issues they vote on, and going to the polls or mailing in their filled-out ballots on time.

So that “every vote matters,” we must be vigilant in ensuring that the “rule of law” remains intact. In Aspen, in Colorado, and throughout the United States, the “rule of law” depends on an intelligent, independent judiciary that safeguards the rights of everyone and applies the law equally. Every schoolchild knows that the judicial branch is a co-equal branch of government in our three-part system of checks and balances. But Law Day is a particularly appropriate day to recognize the difficult and important role that judges serve in our society.

The federal district, bankruptcy, and appellate judges and magistrates who serve Colorado are an impressive bunch: smart, even-tempered, scrupulous, respectful of the truth, and fair to all sides. Under Article III of the Constitution, federal judges appointed to district court and appellate court judgeships are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate; they enjoy lifetime appointments, ended only by impeachment, resignation, or death. Bankruptcy court judges and magistrates are appointed for time-determined terms. Unlike many federal districts throughout the country, Colorado is lucky to have a highly functional federal judiciary with no vacant judgeships, which slow down the administration of justice for everyone.

Our state court judges deserve special mention, for they are the ones who most people in Colorado encounter when they are summoned to jury duty, appear at a hearing to testify, or attend trial as a party. The county, district, and appellate state court judges in Colorado work incredibly hard, day in and day out, with dedicated but over-stretched support staff members, limited resources, and ever-expanding civil and criminal dockets. Our state court judges are the ones who decide every legal matter brought in state court: probate, family law and divorce cases, drunk driving, domestic abuse, sexual assault, violent crimes, theft, fraud, property fights, municipal and water matters, business disputes, and civil litigation, among many others. By definition, our state court judges must be highly knowledgeable in all areas of the law; be proficient in the rules of evidence and procedure; be able to discern untruthful testimony, pick apart attorneys’ arguments; make litigants, jurors, and lay witnesses feel at ease; and maintain decorum in a sometimes seemingly chaotic courtroom.

In Colorado, we have an appointment/retention system for placing judges. A judicial nominating commission (consisting of several lawyers and even more non-lawyers) from each judicial district interviews and vets applicants for district court judgeships. The commission then nominates three finalists to the governor, who conducts his own review process. The governor appoints a judge to a provisional two-year term. Thereafter, the judge stands for retention by the voters for an additional six-year term. County court judges stand for retention every four years. Judges standing for retention are thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized by a local judicial performance commission, whose members vote for or against retention. This process avoids lifetime appointments and allows voters to remove ill-behaving or under-performing judges but does not subject our judges to the indignities of judicial elections and ensures steadiness in the judiciary by avoiding high turnover.

Some states elect judges, which politicizes the judiciary. In judicial-election states, candidates for judgeships have to “run” against one another, raise money from lawyers and special interest groups, and serve under the common impression that their rulings reward their benefactors. Other states impose strict term limits on judges, robbing their citizens of experienced judges who often are at their very best toward the end of their judicial career.

In the Ninth Judicial District, encompassing Pitkin, Garfield, and Rio Blanco counties, we are lucky to have exemplary judges. Our county court judges are perhaps the most visible, as they process a high number of misdemeanor criminal cases each year and hear hundreds of small claims and county court civil cases. Our five district court judges—Chief Judge Boyd, Judge Petre, Judge Lynch, Judge Nichols, and Judge Neiley—are all popular, diligent, thoughtful judges with sharp intellects and commensurate work ethics. They have been faced with one of the busiest dockets in Colorado, and the counties they represent are among the fastest growing in population. Their jobs are among the most difficult anywhere, and they have earned the right to be called “Your Honor.”

On this Law Day, take a moment to be thankful that we live in a nation where “every vote matters,” where the “rule of law” governs. Be glad you live in a state where judges serve the public interest. Be proud that you live in a community with judges who treat everyone with dignity, respect, fairness, and equality.

Chris Bryan is an Aspen attorney and the president of the Pitkin County Bar Association. 

Sotomayor Marks Dedication of Carr Judicial Center

By Sara Crocker

Sotomayor1As a child, Sonia Sotomayor never dreamed of becoming a lawyer, let alone a U.S. Supreme Court justice — until she was introduced to Perry Mason, the fictional L.A. defense attorney of TV.

“Watching Perry Mason taught me about something called lawyering,” she said, adding the show “exposed me to this different career and I started to examine and think about it as a possibility for myself.”

Sotomayor joined Chief Justice Michael Bender and Gov. John Hickenlooper to dedicate the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center on Thursday. Before the official dedication, she met with 100 students from around the state, as well as their family members and state legislators, to talk with them and hear their questions.

Students asked Sotomayor everything from whether she sometimes feels that she has too much power to how she coped with losing her father at the age of 9. Throughout the discussion, she encouraged students to take chances and to follow their passion, whatever that may be.

“The hardest thing to do is take chances when you can fail,” she said, but the way to alleviate that fear is to learn.

“The world opened for me when I read,” Sotomayor said. “When I found books, I found my rocket ship to the universe.”

Bender called Sotomayor a “rockstar” and praised her for her dedication to youth and ensuring that they were a part of the dedication of the judicial center. The chief justice also took time to recognize the building’s namesake, the late Gov. Ralph L. Carr, who spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“Governor Carr was the only person of any political stature who stood up for those who were unjustly interned. He did so against overwhelming public opinion and he did so in a way that actually destroyed his political career,” Bender said. “He is somebody that we all should be inspired by.”

Guests at the dedication included people who were at Japanese internment camps in Colorado, former governors, legislators, and judges and justices from around the state.

Sotomayor2During the dedication ceremony, Sotomayor compared the judicial center with her own courthouse in Washington. Sotomayor, a lover of architecture, said courthouses embody the important work done within them.

The new center, called a 100-year building because the judicial branch plans to grow with the building, sits across from the Capitol at 2 E. 14th Ave. The $258-million building features airy spaces with natural light flowing from the atrium, and the accompanying high-rise houses approximately 1,200 judicial branch employees.

“This center will live it’s intended 100 years with dignity, but its message, like that of my court, will live through the centuries, carried by the memory of all who have walked its halls and felt its impact,” Sotomayor said.

Sara Crocker is the communications specialist for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations and the editor of The Docket.

Colorado Celebrates Law Day

ChiefJusticeBenderBy Michael Bender, Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court

This week, people across the United States will observe Law Day. It is a time each year to celebrate the rule of law and the role the courts and legal system play in helping people peacefully resolve disputes in modern society. Here in Colorado, we will be privileged and honored to have U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor help us mark the occasion.

On May 2, Justice Sotomayor will join me and Governor John Hickenlooper to formally dedicate the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center. The courthouse was named after Colorado’s 29th governor, widely respected for opposing the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Some of Governor Carr’s relatives will be in attendance, as will some of the Japanese-Americans who were interned despite Governor Carr’s efforts. Is there a more fitting tribute than to name our state’s only appellate courthouse after an individual who sacrificed his promising political career to advance the ideals of a just and equal society?

The Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center is home not only to the Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals, but also to the state law library, the Office of the State Court Administrator and other law-related agencies serving Colorado, such as the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Public Defender. However, the building is much more than an office building and modern courthouse. It also is a monument to justice for all and a museum in which we all can learn.

While there are no tickets left for the dedication event, we hope you will join us by watching the event via live stream on our website at 1:30 p.m. on May 2:

Beyond May 2, I invite all of Colorado to visit the courthouse. It is open to the public Monday through Friday, and I encourage you to come and see the numerous public art installations, to attend oral arguments, to review the building’s architectural connections to the State Capitol building, and best of all, to try out our new interactive learning center.

A team of justices, judges and staff spent more than a year designing interactive exhibits that engage young and old alike. The learning center, which will be unveiled during the dedication, features a short movie and several exhibits that ask visitors to consider what life would be like if there were no rules and nothing to guarantee our freedoms. The learning center’s other exhibits show visitors what it’s like to be a judge by allowing them to hear evidence and decide the outcomes of cases and to hear from current and former justices and judges who share their real-life experiences from the bench. Visitors can also see a timeline of Colorado’s judicial milestones and learn about the history of our court system. And, of course, what courthouse learning center experience would be complete without visitors having an opportunity to serve as an attorney or juror in a case?

This week, we will dedicate our state’s newest courthouse and mark the role of the courts in Colorado and beyond. I hope each of you will consider taking a moment to reflect on the stability the rule of law provides in our daily life and how our judicial system is designed to ensure that stability and to protect our freedoms.

As the Martin Luther King Jr. quotation engraved into a wall of the courthouse reads: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As justices and judges of the State of Colorado, we are so proud to serve you and to do our best to uphold the rule of law.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Dedicate Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center

sotomayorU.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be in Denver for the May 2nd dedication of the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center. The Colorado State Judicial Branch will live-stream coverage of the public dedication on May 2 from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. The stream will be available in English and Spanish; click here to stream the live coverage.

Additionally, Justice Sotomayor will hold an event from 8 am to 10 am on the morning of the dedication where she will meet with one hundred 8th, 9th, and 10th graders from across Colorado who have been selected by the Colorado Youth Advisory Council. Justice Sotomayor will meet with the students, talk with them about her life and experiences and answer their questions.

The Colorado Supreme Court announced that the Colorado Court of Appeals and Supreme Court will be closed to the public on May 1 and 2. The clerks’ offices for both courts will remain open. Emergency court filings that cannot be mailed or e-filed will be accepted via the information desk in the lobby of the Ralph L. Carr Office Tower. Regular business will resume on May 3.

Realizing the Dream: Equality for All — Law Day Celebrations Across the State

I Have A DreamOn Wednesday, May 1, 2013, pro se litigants in the First Judicial District will have an opportunity to meet with an attorney for 15 minutes to discuss their civil, criminal, domestic, juvenile, or small claims case. There is no cost for the meeting. The event is part of 2013 Law Day celebrations, and it will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the atrium of the Jefferson County Courts building (100 Jefferson County Parkway in Golden).

Law Day is celebrated nationally each year on May 1. President Dwight Eisenhower established the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution (codified at 36 U.S.C. § 113) designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. The theme of this year’s Law Day is “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” 2013 is the 150th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation, and the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The legacy of the Civil Rights Movement can be seen in the strides that have been made against discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation.

The Colorado and Denver bar associations are also sponsoring events to celebrate Law Day. On May 1, there will be a special showing of the movie “Lincoln” at the Mayan Theater in Denver, with a CLE program presented by Hon. John Madden prior to the movie. Tickets are available through the CBA. On May 2, the DBA Young Lawyers Division will host a Law Day Reception at The Lobby, where the winners of the Law Day Art Contest will be recognized. RSVP to both events or either event by emailing or calling the CBA at (303) 860-1115.

Students who participated in the DBA’s Law Day Art Contest will have their work featured at the Denver Art Museum through May. The winners of the art contest are featured on the cover of the May edition of The Docket, and all of the artwork from participating students is shown in the May edition. It is amazing and inspiring to view the adorable and creative works of these talented kids.

The El Paso County Bar Association is also hosting many Law Day events beginning on April 27 with Ask-A-Lawyer for Senior Citizens at the Colorado Springs Senior Center. On Saturday, May 4, they are hosting a Waldo Canyon Fire Tree Planting Service Project; download the registration form here. On Thursday, May 16, KKTV Channel 11 will host a Call-A-Lawyer event. To volunteer, email Pikes Peak pro bono. There will be a Law Day Race on May 17 at Monument Valley Park; registration will be on Finally, on Tuesday, May 21, there will be a Law Day Luncheon and awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom of the Mining Exchange Hotel. Click here to RSVP.

For more information on Colorado’s Law Day events, click here. To see the CBA press release regarding Law Day, click here. For the ABA page about Law Day 2013, click here.