Congratulations to Our New Colorado Supreme Court Justice.

Congratulations to newly-appointed Colorado Supreme Court Justice William Hood III.  As a critic of the Colorado General Assembly's 2010 breach of Colorado PERA pension COLA contractual obligations, I have more than a passing interest in the Colorado Supreme Court justices who will render a decision in the case (Justus v. State.)  In the past, Justice William Hood has been employed by a (now-defunct) law firm, Isaacson Rosenbaum, P.C. that has represented a defendant in the Colorado PERA retiree COLA lawsuit, Justus v. State.  In spite of the fact that Justice Hood has worked for Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C. (with an attorney, Mark Grueskin, who has represented the defendant in the case, Justus v. State) I have full confidence in Justice Hood's judicial impartiality and fairness.  Nevertheless, in litigation, it is always best that all current and former relationships be openly acknowledged.

Isaacson Rosenbaum's work for Colorado PERA:

"Both the state and PERA filed motions in May asking the court to dismiss six of the eight claims contained in the plaintiffs’ case.  The state is represented by the Attorney General’s office; PERA’s lead attorneys are Mark Grueskin and Edward Ramey of Isaacson Rosenbaum, PC."

http://coloradostatesman.com/content/991958-ruling-pera-bill-expected-shortly

"Among those representing PERA are two well-known Denver governmental affairs lawyers, Mark Grueskin and Edward Ramey of the Isaacson Rosenbaum firm."

http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2010/05/13/pera-responds-to-retiree-lawsuit/comment-page-1

Justice William Hood's work at Isaacson Rosenbaum:

"Before moving to the bench, Judge Hood was a shareholder at Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C., where he did both civil and criminal trial work."

http://www.law.du.edu/index.php/profile/judge-will-hood

"Hood, 50, has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007.  Prior to becoming a judge, Hood practiced at the private firm Isaacson Rosenbaum."

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24389795/hickenlooper-appoints-new-colorado-supreme-court-justice

"Prior to becoming a judge, Hood was in private practice at Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C., where he was a shareholder from 2005-2007 and of counsel in the litigation department from 2003-2005."

http://kdvr.com/2013/10/25/hickenlooper-will-name-william-hood-to-colo-supreme-court/

Apparently, in 2006, Isaacson Rosenbaum was representing Colorado PERA (while Justice Hood was a shareholder):

"Colorado PERA files motion challenging (2006) ballot initiative."

"The motion was filed on behalf of attorneys Mark G. Greuskin and Edward T. Ramey of the Denver Law Firm Isaacson Rosenbaum, P.C."

https://www.copera.org/pdf/NewsReleases/2006/Initiative.pdf

Law Week online:

"Redistricting Judge, Dem Lawyer Worked At Same Firm."

"Asked about a possible conflict between himself and the judge, Grueskin said, 'Even before you get to the issue that he and I were formerly colleagues, he may have a docket that’s full.'"

"Grueskin explained that the redistricting case must be decided well before the Feb. 7 caucuses, and 'typically there will be some reallocation if necessary because not every judge’s docket would accommodate that.'”

http://www.lawweekonline.com/2011/05/redistricting-judge-dem-lawyer-worked-at-same-firm/

From clearthebenchcolorado:

"However, the case may not remain with Judge Hood, due to his past association (working together at the same law firm) with Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin, as also reported by Law Week online: Denver District Judge William Hood, who was randomly assigned to hear Colorado congressional redistricting lawsuits filed Tuesday by Republicans and Democrats, once was a law-firm colleague of the lead attorney for the Democratic side."

"Before his appointment to the Denver bench in 2007, Hood worked at Isaacson Rosenbaum, the firm that until recently employed Democratic Party lawyer Mark Grueskin."

http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/tag/colorado-judiciary-project/page/2/

“ . . . Matt Arnold appeared on the Your Show television program [moderated by Adam Schrager,] debating former Colorado Supreme Court justice Jean Dubofsky [my note, author of the 2009 Colorado PERA “COLA-taking” legal opinion] representing the 'Colorado Judiciary Project' [a legal-establishment special-interest group formed by Democratic state party attorney and Mark Grueskin.]”

http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/tag/devils-advocate/

Denver Post:

"Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday announced his appointment of Denver District Court Judge William Hood III as the 103rd Colorado Supreme Court justice."

"Hood will fill the vacancy created next year when Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender retires.  Bender, who will step down Jan. 7, has served on the Supreme Court since 1997 and as chief since 2010."

"'He (Hood) has consistently demonstrated an ability to fairly apply the law while administering justice,' Hickenlooper said. 'His breadth of experience on both sides of the courtroom is invaluable to informed decisions.'"

"Hood, 50, has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007.  Prior to becoming a judge, Hood practiced at the private firm Isaacson Rosenbaum.  He also served as a prosecutor for the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office."

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24389795/hickenlooper-appoints-new-colorado-supreme-court-justice

Isaacson Rosenbaum's recent (2011) closure:

"Venerable 50-year-old Denver law firm Isaacson Rosenbaum will wind up operations and close at the end of June, people familiar with the situation today told Law Week Colorado."

"The firm, which lists 23 shareholders and five associates on its website, was a victim of the 2008 economic downturn, a heavy emphasis in real estate law and an expensive office lease at the recently renovated 1005 17th St."  "It wasn’t immediately known where all of its top attorneys would land."  "Ramey and Lawrence joined Heizer Paul Grueskin, and Corrada is moving to Lapin & Lapin."

http://www.lawweekonline.com/2011/06/breaking-isaacson-rosenbaum-will-close-at-months-end/

CBSLocal.com:

"The 50-year-old Hood has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007.  He’s also an adjunct professor at the University of Denver."

"Hickenlooper said geography was a consideration but that his top priority was finding the best fit to represent all of Colorado."

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/10/25/william-hood-iii-named-new-colorado-supreme-court-justice/

From Justice Hood's Colorado Court Biography:

"Some of his legal writing on trial work and criminal procedure has been published by the Colorado Lawyer and the Virginia Law Review.  Judge Hood is also a certified instructor for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and a past member of the Denver Bar Association’s Board of Trustees."

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Bio.cfm?Employee_ID=560

Justice William Hood also has experience with Colorado PERA litigation:

From "Tracey Lawless v. Standard Insurance Company and Colorado PERA":

"In sum, Standard’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s first and second claims is denied.  Summary judgment enters in favor of PERA and against Plaintiff on Plaintiff’s first, second, and third claims for relief."

"Statutory interpretation is a question of law.  Sperry v. Field, 205 P.3d 365, 367 (Colo. 2009). 'A reviewing court begins the analysis with the plain language of the statute.  If the statute is clear and unambiguous on its face, then the court need look no further.' Id. The statutory scheme should be considered as a whole, giving 'consistent, harmonious and sensible effect to all its parts.' People v. Luther, 58 P.3d 1013, 1015 (Colo. 2002)."

(My comment: The plain language of the Colorado PERA statutes identifies accrued, "automatic," Colorado PERA COLA benefits as a contractual obligation of Colorado PERA-affiliated employers.

According to the September 29, 2010 version of the Legislative Drafting Manual, the Colorado Legislature’s lawyers believe that “shall” means mandatory.  The lawyers have another word that they use if they want to indicate that an action is discretionary. That word is “MAY.”

Colorado Legislative Drafting Manual, Revised 9/29/2010:

Drafting Manual, page 5-15 – “In the statutes, ‘shall’ should be used to indicate a command.”
Drafting Manual, page 5-18 – “Use the word ‘shall’ in statutory directions or requirements.”
Drafting Manual, page 5-19 – “‘Shall’ indicates a command.”
Drafting Manual, page 5-19 – “Use ‘may’ to grant discretion.”

The provision in Colorado law providing the contracted Colorado PERA 3.5 percent COLA benefit (prior to its retroactive alteration by SB10-001) read:

Colorado Law – Section 24-51-1002 (1), Colorado Revised Statutes, “ . . .the cumulative increase applied to benefits paid SHALL be recalculated annually as of March 1 and SHALL be the total percent derived by multiplying three and one-half percent, compounded annually, times the number of years such benefit has been effective . . .”

Under Colorado law, members of Colorado PERA who purchase PERA service credit SHALL receive Colorado PERA pension benefits in effect at the time of the purchase:

Colorado Law – Section 24-51-502 (3), Colorado Revised Statutes, “Service credit purchased by members . . . SHALL be subject to the benefit provisions in effect for the existing member contribution account.”

In November of 2011, the Colorado General Assembly’s Legislative Drafting Manual was revised.  Drafting rules (on pages 5-16 through 5-20) relating to use of the word “shall” in Colorado law were changed.  According to the November 29, 2011 version of the Legislative Drafting Manual, “shall” now means “has a duty to.”  (Note that the date of revision on the Legislative Drafting Manual is found on the final page of the document.)

From the November 29, 2011 Legislative Drafting Manual:

“Shall” means that “a person ‘has a duty to.’"

“(a) Shall. Use ‘shall’ to impose a duty on a person.  ‘Will’, ‘must’, and ‘should’ should not be used as a substitute for ‘shall’.”

“(II) When using ‘shall’ to mandate an action in which the outcome is in the discretion of the actor, include alternative actions the actor may take:

Avoid: The commissioner shall approve an application within thirty days.

Write: The commissioner shall approve or deny an application within thirty days.

(c) May. Use ‘may’ to permit or grant discretion or authority with regard to a thing or person.”

In my mind, it doesn’t really matter whether Colorado PERA is “commanded” to provide the 3.5 percent contracted COLA benefit, or Colorado PERA “has a duty” provide the 3.5 percent contracted COLA benefit.  Under either set of legislative drafting definitions, Colorado PERA is required by law to pay Colorado PERA retirees their contracted, accrued 3.5 percent COLA benefit as deferred compensation.  Thus, Colorado PERA and the State of Colorado are currently in breach of contract.)

From Tracey Lawless v. Standard Insurance Company and Colorado PERA:

"If the statute is ambiguous, the court looks to the statute’s legislative history, the consequences of a given construction, and the overall goal of the statutory scheme to determine the proper interpretation of the statute.” Sperry 205 P.3d at 367.  Therefore, it is appropriate for me to look beyond the plain meaning of the words, including the statute’s legislative history, the consequences of a given construction, and the overall goal of the statutory scheme to determine the proper interpretation of the statute."

http://www.svs-law.com/_images/Order%20MSJs%20&%20MTD%20010412.pdf

Legislative history of the PERA COLA benefit:

March 24, 1993 (1:32 PM – 2:28 PM)

Rob Gray, Director of Government Relations, Colorado PERA testifying to the Legislature's House Finance Committee in regard to the "automatic" PERA COLA benefit under consideration [in House Bill 93-1324]: “The PERA Board does support this bill.”  “We felt like it is something that is good pension policy . . . that it makes sense . . . THAT IT IS MAKING PERMANENT CHANGES, and also that it does help employers which is one of the goals of the bill.”  Rob Gray states that the proposed COLA “adds predictability for current and future retirees, people looking at leaving might look at this and say now I know how my future increases are going to be determined . . .”.  Rob Gray characterizes the “automatic” PERA COLA benefit as a Colorado PERA liability: “when a change in benefits is added, like this bill, it extends out the period for paying off that unfunded liability.” If you listen to the recording of this meeting, you will also hear a member of the House Finance Committee refer to the Colorado PERA COLA provision under consideration as a pension benefit that is “guaranteed,” “now and in the future.”  [Note that the contracted PERA COLA benefit adopted by the committee was in later years improved by the Colorado General Assembly to flat 3.5 percent level, constitutionally permissible as this “improvement” did not impair PERA pension contracts.])

Justice Hood's Judicial Performance Review:

"As a result, prior to taking his seat on the bench, Judge Hood completed several courses in domestic relations matters and read extensively on the subject to advance his skills in this area. Judge Hood was highly rated by the attorneys in the areas of case management, overall application and knowledge of the law, communication and demeanor. The non-lawyers surveyed found him to be fair, compassionate, and an effective communicator."

http://www.coloradojudicialperformance.gov/retention.cfm?ret=719

Justice William Hood is knowledgeable on the subject of spousal maintenance:

"- Spousal Maintenance 2013 – Gary Polidori, Denise Mills , and Hon. William Hood III."

http://cle.cobar.org/HomeStudies/productinfo/productcd/FL080913D.aspx#.Umvwbr7na4M

Justice Hood helped write Colorado's new divorce law:

"Judges, including William Hood of the 2nd Judicial District and Angela Arkin of the 18th Judicial District, helped craft the law, so that it would work for families and courts in the way that those who drafted the law intended."

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24340928/new-law-changes-alimony-landscape-divorcing-colorado-couples

"New law changes alimony landscape for divorcing Colorado couples."

"Divorcing couples will face dramatic changes — and significant uncertainty — related to alimony after a new state law goes into effect on Jan. 1."

"Judges, including William Hood of the 2nd Judicial District and Angela Arkin of the 18th Judicial District, helped craft the law, so that it would work for families and courts in the way that those who drafted the law intended."

http://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/ci_24346211/new-law-changes-alimony-landscape-divorcing-colorado-couples

From the recent Act, House Bill 13-1058:

"CONCERNING GUIDELINES FOR THE DETERMINATION OF SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE."

"(c) (I) 'GROSS INCOME' MEANS INCOME FROM ANY SOURCE AND

INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO:

(H) PENSION PAYMENTS AND RETIREMENT BENEFITS ACTUALLY RECEIVED THAT HAVE NOT PREVIOUSLY BEEN DIVIDED AS PROPERTY IN THIS ACTION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THOSE PAID PURSUANT TO ARTICLES 51, 54, 54.5, AND 54.6 OF TITLE 24, C.R.S., AND ARTICLE 30 OF TITLE 31, C.R.S."

http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2013a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont2/DF14C3B93C0EBF9387257A8E0073C4E0/$FILE/1058_enr.pdf

"Like the child support statute, the list defining income is lengthy, and can include most sources, such as income from employment, self employment, retirement or pension pay . . ."

http://www.denverdivorceattorneyblog.com/2013/03/changes-coming-related-to-colo-1.html

"Accrued or vested retirement benefits are community property. This means they need to be divided in a divorce."

http://www.legalzoom.com/divorce-guide/retirement-benefits-divorce.html

"You can value this (defined benefit pension) plan in one of two ways.  First, an actuary or accountant can mathematically compute the present-day value of the future income stream from the plan.  Second, rather than using a present-day cash value, you can divide the future income stream by a Domestic Relations Order.  The present-day cash value of the retirement benefit may be a substantial amount, especially for an employee who has participated in the plan for a long period of time.  A divorcing spouse may benefit from using this valuation method as a tactic to encourage the other spouse to trade an interest in the pension for a different asset."

"Some states and some judges will not value a defined benefit plan by the present-day cash value method.  In these instances, the court may choose to divide the pension account by a Domestic Relations Order rather than award the pension to the participating spouse."

http://smartdivorce.com/articles/retirement.shtml

If the 3.5 percent Colorado PERA COLA is not a contractual obligation of Colorado PERA-affiliated employers, and can be legally "clawed back," must all past Colorado divorces that have involved a division of PERA annuities be revisited?

From saveperacola.com:

"Finally, it appears that Judge Hyatt has previously ruled that the statutory PERA COLA provisions are a contractual obligation of PERA plan sponsors."  "A comment from 'Alan B' was posted in the on-line version of the Denver Post regarding his divorce case.  If Alan’s post is authentic and accurate it makes one wonder whether or not Judge Hyatt believes the COLA (aka, annual benefit increase) is contractually protected.  Here’s what Alan wrote: 'What truly confounds me in this case is that Judge Hyatt ruled the opposite in my divorce case. Which only shows what I have read before that it takes the courts 5 to 10 years to figure something out. He ruled that my wife was entitled to her share of PERA discounted at the legal rate assuming that PERA would pay my pension compounded at 3.5 percent for the rest of my life. Her lawyers argued that her social security could not be guaranteed yet the PERA could be. Judge Hyatt ruled for her and in this case he ruled the opposite of what he had ruled in the current case. Is the 3.5 percent annual adjustment guaranteed or not, Hyatt has spoken on the record, yes and no.'”

How can the 3.5 percent PERA COLA obligation be recognized as a contractual obligation in Colorado divorce cases by Judge Hyatt, if the 3.5 percent PERA COLA obligation is not itself a contractual obligation?

Coincidently, Mark Grueskin's daughter (Abigail Grueskin) has also worked for Colorado PERA.  She is young, talented and just beginning her professional life.

"Brainstormed, edited, and assisted in the editorial process of Colorado PERA’s newly created sub-branding effort, 'The Dime Colorado'."

. . . as well as for Isaacson Rosenbaum, "Records Assistant, Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C., Facilitated the implementation of the firm's record retention and storage policy.  Interacted with various lawyers and staff members to acquire accurate data"

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/abigail-grueskin/50/723/482

More relationships:

"Par Sponsors: Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Epstein, P.C. (by Steve Epstein), Mark Grueskin & Lola Farber Grueskin & Family, Sam Mamet & Judith Cassel-Mamet & Family . . ."

http://www.micahdenver.org/blog/?p=623

In the rarefied environment of the Colorado legislative arena many of the key players are acquainted.

Sam Mamet is Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League (CML.)  Some of CML's municipal members have benefited from the Colorado General Assembly's use of approximately $700 million in state revenue to pay off legacy local government pension debts (Old Hire Fire and Police pension obligations) that are not the contractual obligation of the State of Colorado.  Many of these past legislative appropriations, to cover Colorado local government debts, were made during years in which the Colorado General Assembly failed to pay its full Colorado PERA pension bill (ARC.)  An appropriation of $142 million in state revenue was made for this purpose (paying local government legacy pension debts) at the 2013 legislative session.

From KDVR:

“House Republican leaders are floating a proposal to repay a longstanding debt (My comment, this is not a state 'debt,' sloppy reporting) to the state’s Fire and Police Pension Association in full as a way to get some GOP lawmakers to vote in favor of the $20 billion state budget for next year, which will be up for debate in the House on Thursday.”  “‘It’s (House Minority Leader) Waller’s effort to buy some Republican votes,’ one GOP lawmaker told FOX31 Denver Tuesday." "Waller, who is almost certain to run for Attorney General (next) year, would like to be able to demonstrate that he leads a group of lawmakers who are pragmatic and responsible; and helping forge a bipartisan budget compromise would help him make that case.”

http://kdvr.com/2013/04/02/republicans-considering-pension-deal-hoping-for-bipartisan-budget-vote/

FPPA CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: THESE LOCAL GOVERNMENT PENSIONS ARE NOT A CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION OF THE STATE OF COLORADO.

September 19, 2012, FPPA testimony (Dan Slack, CEO, FPPA) regarding the obligation of the State of Colorado to pay for local government "Old Hire Police Officers Pension Plans" to the Colorado General Assembly's Police Officers and Firefighters Pension Reform Commission (29 minutes into the hearing):

"So the State has made certain commitments, but has been very careful not to make binding obligations upon itself as the state to provide some assistance with funding for these plans."

Link:

http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2013A/cslFrontPages.nsf/Audio?OpenPage

Colorado Municipal League:

"Mark Grueskin is a partner with the Denver law firm of Heizer Paul Grueskin LLP."

"Formerly a political campaign manager, Mark has worked as a lawyer on election related issues for more than 25 years."

"Mark served as Deputy Legislative Director for the Governor of Colorado and as the Governor’s Legal Counsel before re-entering private practice."

http://www.cml.org/uploadedFiles/CML_Site_Map/_Global/training/atty_bios.pdf

Colorado PERA active and retired members.  Continue to support public pension contractual rights and the rule of law in Colorado.  Contribute at saveperacola.com.  "Friend" Save Pera Cola on Facebook!

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12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. hawkeye says:

    Do you think Clear the Bench Colorado (CTB) will be pushing for the reclusal of Justice Hood from the SB-1 case due to his association with former colleague Mark Grueskin?  If CTB is ok with Justice Hood's participation, then perhaps they see him deciding for the defendants. 

  2. hawkeye says:

    Might I add, Justice William Hood will face a statewide retention vote in 2 years.  If successful, then Justice Hood will begin serving a 10-year term on the Colorado Supreme Court.  It will be very tempting and in self-interest for Justice Hood to recluse himself from some politically charged cases due to former associations with Mark Grueskin and others who have litigated numerous times before the state supreme court.  CTB will be watching closely.  

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Aargh. Algernon, how about a three sentence summary in English?

    If I understand your somewhat convoluted writing, Judge Hood was appointed by whom (Hickenlooper?) and you're concerned that he may be too partial to PERA interests against a lawsuit charging contractual default?

    And Mark Grueskin was the arguing attorney for the defense (PERA) in the lawsuit?   And Judge Hood was in the same law firm? Or what?

    • Algernon Moncrief says:

      Hey Mama, sorry about the convoluted writing.  I'm torn, the articles are more accessible (but longer) if I put in a lot of background material.  I generally assume familairity with the issue, and try to eliminate the constant repetition of the same material.  Of course, that's no excuse for sloppy writing.

      In a nutshell, Justice Hood is a good man and, according to reports, a talented and fair judge.  I have confidence in his judicial impartiality.  However, some may ask if past relationships or employment are conflicts in certain cases that might come before the court.  So, it is best that all past relationships be acknowledged and that this matter be addressed up front.  Al

  4. Algernon Moncrief says:

    Justice Hood's Relationship with Grueskin and the Democratic Party.

    Hawkeye, apart from all of the details in this case, I am truly saddened that some Democrats in Colorado decided to split the party, by breaking PERA contracts in 2010.

    There was no justification for this.  The Legislature has, historically, not paid its pension bills, and Colorado PERA administrators have not held the Legislature accountable for this failure to prioritize contracted debts over discretionary expenditures.  The Legislature ran up its pension "credit card."  The solution is not to use the force of government to shift state debts onto old people.  Prospective, legal pension reforms were available and ignored in 2010.

    Off soapbox.

    I'm not sure that CTBC has a position on the 2010 Colorado PERA pension contract breach.  I don't know much about the organization.

    Also, I haven't looked at the Supreme Court rules relating to the recusal of judges from cases, so I'm unsure as to whether Justice Hood's work at Isaacson Rosenbaum, or his party activities  are sufficient to warrant recusal.

    (CTBC is also claiming that Justice Hood was a Ritter contributor and hosted events for Ritter's campaign.  Of course, Governor Ritter signed SB10-001 into law, taking accrued PERA pension benefits from PERA retirees.  Ritter appointed Hood to the bench.)

    I have the impression that CTBC is aligned with the Republican Party.  To what extent is this true?  Of course, the defense of rights afforded by the Colorado Constitution transcends party politics.

    In Colorado, we have Republicans and Democrats on both sides of this PERA contract breach issue.

    Some examples of Democrats who opposed the PERA contract breach: Representatives Pace, McFadyen, Merrifield, Massey, Weissman and Primavera.

    The Pueblo Chieftain quoting from House Minority Leader Sal Pace’s website in February 2010:

    "'I voted against the proposal because I don’t believe that the problems with PERA need an immediate fix and the solutions proposed unduly placed a burden on our seniors,’ Pace said in a statement on his Web site Tuesday."

    Many Republicans opposed the PERA pension contract breach in 2010.  This fact doesn't surprise me since so many conservatives ardently defend the Constitution and support the sanctity of contracts in the private sector.  A Republican opposing the PERA contract breach:

    Minority Leader and House Finance Committee Chairman Brian DelGrosso, February 23, 2012,

    "I voted against Senate Bill1, and I voted against Senate Bill 1 not because I felt like we didn't need to fix PERA, I agreed with that part of it, but I voted against Senate Bill1 for the fact that it did adjust some of the COLAs and it did adjust stuff for folks that were already retired and people that were about ready to retire, and to me I felt like that was violating a contract that those people had got into . . . they played by the rules that were of the game at the time, and these folks . . . got up to where they about to retire or were retired, and now all of a sudden we were going to change the rules of game on them after they were done playing.  So to me, that was why I voted against Senate Bill 1, because I felt like that violated some of the contractual issues that we had."

    • hawkeye says:

      Thanks Algernon.  In 2006, Justice Hood made a contribution to the Ritter campaign, however, Justice Eid contributed to the Owens campaign in 1998.  As I see it, we all have the right to exercise free speech by way of making contributions to candidates seeking public office.  For the record, I've contributed to candidates from both parties over the last 40 plus years.

      • Algernon Moncrief says:

        Agreed Hawkeye, I don't see campaign contributions and even hosting a campaign event as all that significant.

        How about having worked for a firm with an extensive record of representing a defendant in a case currently before your court?  This is in the neighborhood of having represented the defendant in the case yourself, depending on the extent of any firewalls that were in place at the time.

        Or, having been a "shareholder" in a law firm (having financially benefited from the firm's representation of a defendant) in a case currently before your court?

        Or, having worked with a colleague who created an organization to defend the impartiality of Colorado courts, when the author of the legal opinion at the heart of a case before your court has been active in that organization?  It seems like such an organization would go to great lengths to defend the impartiality of the Colorado judiciary, and to avoid even a whiff of conflict in the air.

        It might be helpful if we just looked at the Supreme Court's rules relating to recusal, to see if any of this is considered a borderline conflict.

        Or, maybe Eliott could weigh in . . . he's a lawyer.  Al

  5. Algernon Moncrief says:

    Justice Hood's Relationship with Grueskin and the Democratic Party.

    Here are a few potentially relevant pieces of this puzzle:

    Hood has contributed to the Ritter campaign, and "hosted campaign events"?  Is this true?

    Ritter appoints Hood to the bench.

    Hood works with Grueskin at Isaacson Rosenbaum.

    Hood is a shareholder at Isaacson Rosenbaum in 2006.

    Isaacson Rosenbaum works for Colorado PERA during this time period.

    Grueskin does legal work for Colorado Democratic Party.

    Grueskin creates the "Colorado Judiciary Project."

    (Grueskin notes that this organization was created to inform the public regarding the merit-based selection process used by the Colorado Commission on Judicial Performance.)

    "In the meantime, Grueskin is still in the process of getting the Colorado Judicial Project on its feet; when asked if the CJP would have a web presence, he laughingly admits, 'I don't know. We've chatted about a number of ways to help educate the public — but you've got a roomful of lawyers, for crying out loud. So we have dissenting and concurring opinions, but no decision.'"

    http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/05/mark_grueskin_matt_arnold_tang.php

    PERA hires former Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky to create a legal opinion justifying the PERA pension contract breach in 2009.

    Jean Dubofsky has "represented" or is affiliated with the Colorado Judicial Project?

    “ . . . Matt Arnold appeared on the Your Show television program [moderated by Adam Schrager,] debating former Colorado Supreme Court justice Jean Dubofsky [my note, author of the 2009 Colorado PERA "COLA-taking" legal opinion] representing the 'Colorado Judiciary Project' [a legal-establishment special-interest group formed by Democratic state party attorney and Mark Grueskin.]”

    http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/tag/devils-advocate/

    PERA Board of Trustees supports pension contract breach in 2009 and 2010.

    Ritter signs SB10-001 breaking PERA retiree pension contracts.

  6. Algernon Moncrief says:

    Justice Hood's Relationship with Grueskin and the Democratic Party.

    More from the CTBC:

    "Given Hood’s close associations with Democrat party attorney and frequent Colorado Supreme Court litigant Mark Grueskin, this pick could lead to a number of recusals in some high-profile, politically-charged cases that might come before the Colorado Supreme Court."

    http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/2013/10/26/governor-Hickenlooper-picks-democrat-contributor-hood-as-new-colorado-supreme-court-justice/

    From ColoradoPols.com:

    "Hickenlooper was under some natural pressure to appoint a Democrat to replace the liberal Bender with a similar-minded justice — particularly after his last appointment to fill a vacant seat; in 2011, Hickenlooper chose Jefferson County Republican Brian Boatright to replace the retiring Alex Martinez, a decision that did not sit well with Democrats. Martinez had been a liberal voice on the Colorado Supreme Court, and replacing him with the conservative Boatright may have ultimately been the difference in the Lobato education lawsuit. Selecting Hood, a registered Democrat, keeps the court's political affiliations about the same: 3 liberals (Hood, Nancy Rice, Gregory Hobbs), 3 conservatives (Allison Eid, Nathan Coates,and Boatright), and 1 "Unaffiliated" (Monica Marquez).

    http://coloradopols.com/diary/51002/hickenlooper-appoints-new-supreme-court-judge

    (My comment: It appears that Justices Eid and Marquez are recused in the case, Justus v. State.)

    "Hood's history as a Democrat party contributor – he maxed out to Bill Ritter's 2006 campaign, contributed to the Democrat House Majority Fund, and others – is notable."

    "Interesting that the Denver Post failed to uncover and/or report on this salient fact."

    http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/20 … t-justice/

    "Prior to being appointed to the Denver District Court in 2007, Hood was a long-time contributor to Democrat candidates and causes: hosting events for Bill Ritter’s campaign and contributing the maximum amount ($1,000) in 2006, contributing to the State Democratic Party House Campaign Fund, and supporting Steve Bernard’s failed campaign for District Attorney in 2004."

    "Hood also has close ties to Democrat Party attorney (and frequent Colorado Supreme Court litigator) Mark Grueskin, dating from their time as colleagues in the politically connected (and politically active) Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C. law firm – associations that may have been related to his removal from the 2011 Congressional redistricting lawsuits, before the case was reassigned to Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt . . ."

    http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/2013/10/26/governor-Hickenlooper-picks-democrat-contributor-hood-as-new-colorado-supreme-court-justice/

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