The Colorado and Denver Bar Associations will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, handicap, marital status, sexual orientation or national origin. The bar associations will work to ensure that qualified minority and handicapped applicants are employed. Such efforts must include, but are not limited to the following: employment, upgrading, recruitment, recruitment advertising and rates of pay or other forms of compensation.
Any bar association entity, i.e. committees, programs, etc. intending to solicit funds from lawyers and/or law firms must first obtain Executive Committee or Board of Trustees approval.
Student members of the Interprofessional Committee may participate in committee discussion and deliberations but cannot investigate complaints or vote on issues.
The trustees will look at the agenda of the Board of Governors to see what issues might affect the Denver Bar Association; any particular discussion or stand taken by the Board of Trustees should be disseminated to the Board of Governors representatives; the Board of Governors representatives will be specifically informed that they are not bound in any way by the stand of the Board of Trustees, but they may be guided by their thoughts.
The DBA sells its membership list to all CLE organizations, profit or non-profit, if accredited by the Supreme Court. If fees are charged over and above cost, they should be reasonable and non-profit CLE organizations such as CLECI, DU and CU should be exempt for all but actual cost. The mailing list should be denied to all other organizations with possible exception of United Way and paralegal organizations at the discretion of the Board.
The Denver Bar Association, being a non-profit voluntary membership association, is not in a position to make contributions to various causes, charitable or otherwise.
It is the policy of the Denver Bar Association (DBA) not to make contributions to outside organizations for the sponsorship of social events. Exceptions, approved by two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Trustees present at a meeting, may be made under exceptional circumstances for events directly benefiting the Denver legal community, provided the event is held in the City and County of Denver.
A. Purpose and Functions of Policy
1. The primary purpose and functions of the policy are:
(a) To deal with criticism of judges, courts and/or the administration of justice, as further provided in this policy statement;
(b) To be available to the news media as a resource for obtaining information concerning judicial activities, court process, or other technical or legal information about the administration of justice.
B. Referral Procedure
1. Assign task of administering the policy to the executive director of the Denver Bar Association or his/her designee.
2. The executive director should immediately begin to gather all pertinent background and factual information including a copy of the text (whether live or in print media) of the criticism.
3. The executive director or his/her designee should immediately notify the president of the association who shall call a meeting of the Executive Committee.
4. The president of the association or his/her designee may issue a statement in the name of the association.
C. Guidelines to Determine When the Bar Should Respond
1. The following are the kinds of cases in which responding to criticism is appropriate, except in unusual circumstances:
(a) When the criticism is serious and will most likely have more than a passing or de minimis negative effect in the community.
(b) When the criticism displays a lack of understanding of the legal system or the role of the judge or is based at least partially on such misunderstanding; and
(c) When the criticism is materially inaccurate, the inaccuracy should be a substantial part of the criticism so that the response does not appear to be "nitpicking."
2. The following factors should be considered in determining whether a response should be made in a close case, and considered in every case in determining the type of response:
(a) Whether a response would serve a public information purpose;
(b) Whether the criticism substantially and negatively affects the judiciary or other parts of the legal system;
(c) Whether the criticism is directed at a particular judge but unjustly reflects on the judiciary generally, the court, or another element of the judicial system (e.g., grand jury, lawyers, probation, bail, etc.);
(d) Whether a response provides the opportunity to inform the public about an important aspect of the administration of justice (e.g., sentencing, bail, evidence rules, fundamental rights, etc.);
(e) Whether a response would appear defensive or self-serving;
(f) Whether the criticism or report, although generally accurate, does not contain all or enough of the facts of the event or procedure reported to be fair to the judge or matter being criticized;
(g) Whether overall the criticism is not justified or fair;
(h) Whether criticism is a fair comment or opinion;
(i) Whether a lengthy investigation to develop the true fact is necessary;
(j) Whether the response would affect a matter of issue in a pending proceeding;
(k) Whether the controversy is insignificant.
D. The Response
1. Timing. To be effective, the response must be prompt, but accurate. If at all possible, the response should be made within 24 to 48 hours of publication of the criticism or report, especially keeping in mind the deadline(s) of the news media that reported the original criticism.
2. Form of Response. The president shall determine the form of response (letter, press release, television appearance, etc.)
3. Considerations for Responding
(a) The response should be a concise, accurate "to the point" statement, devoid of emotional, inflammatory or subjective language;
(b) The statement should be informative and not argumentative or condescending;
(c) The statement should include a correction of the inaccuracies, citing facts and relevant authorities where appropriate;
(d) The statement should be written in lay terms suitable for inclusion in a newspaper story;
(e) Where appropriate, the statement should include the point that the judge had no control or discretion (e.g., decision required by state law);
(f) Where appropriate, the statement should include an explanation of the process involved (e.g., sentencing, bail, temporary restraining order);
(g) The statement should not defend the indefensible.
4. Content of the Response
(a) Identify the criticism and its source.
(b) We may frequently disagree with decisions and actions of public officials, including judges, and federal and state constitutions protect our right to express that disagreement.
(c) Except where refusal is appropriate, judges have no control over what cases come before them, and must decide each and all of these cases. Handling a difficult or unpopular case is not grounds for removal. Judges must follow the law as established by higher courts. One side always loses in every lawsuit.
(d) Because of their position, judges are not wholly free to defend themselves and, ordinarily, it is not appropriate for them to personally answer charges made against them or their decisions (EC 8-6).
(e) Lawyers under the Code of Professional Responsibility have the duty to defend judges against unjust criticism (EC 8-6).
(f) There is a need for independent judges, who will not be influenced by unjust criticism of them or their decisions. This requires that the organized bar remind both lawyers and the public of these facts.
(g) The law has established appellate courts so that decisions of judges may be reviewed and corrected. Our present judicial system provides for change in the law through legislative action or by constitutional revision.
(h) The reason why the particular criticism or attack is unjust.
NOTE: The Denver Bar Association should avoid taking a position on the merits of the controversy, if to do so would eliminate any educational benefit the balance of the points might have for those who agree with the criticism. In such situations, it may be best to omit discussion of why the particular criticism is unjust. This must be decided on a case-by-case basis.