Other Volunteer Opportunities

The following projects are accepting new volunteers. If you’re interested, please contact the task force Chair(s) or send us an email. We look forward to working with you!

Children’s Rights & Education

Civil Rights & Criminal Law

Community Development

Immigration

Education Task Force

The Colorado Lawyers Committee has a long history of working to improve educational opportunities for children in Colorado. Task Force volunteers closely monitor developments in Colorado’s state budget crisis to assure adequate funding for Colorado’s schools. The Task Force is also examining educational issues to determine if legal solutions might improve education for Colorado’s children. Anyone interested in K-12 education is invited to participate. John Tatlock (The Harris Law Firm P.C.) and Terry Miller (Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP) co-chair this Task Force.
Since 2009, members of the Education Task Force have focused on two issues: (1) DPS. A coalition of lawyers and community leaders was formed to assure transparency in the closure and restructuring of Denver Public School facilities. This Subcommittee is dedicated to the success of DPS and the highest educational achievement of its students. Anyone interested in participating should contact the co-chairs, John Tatlock (The Harris Law Firm P.C.) and Dan Sweetser (The Sweetser Law Firm, P.C.) (2) School Finance. A second group of lawyers volunteered to assist with Lobato v. State of Colorado, a case which challenged Colorado’s school financing system to provide a ‘thorough and uniform’ system of public education, as mandated by the State constitution. In 2011, more than 70 volunteers from 12 different law firms assisted in the case, which included a successful 5-week trial in Denver District Court; the team donated approximately 14,000 hours to assist in discovery, depositions, trial preparation and trial. The State appealed the decision and the Lobato team filed a response, along with several amici briefs on both sides of the matter. The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 7, 2013. In a 4-2 vote, the Court reversed the trial court decision, holding that Colorado’s school finance system is rationally related to the ‘thorough and uniform’ standard of the state Constitution despite not “provid[ing] an optimal amount of money to the public schools.” Click here to read the opinion. Regardless of the outcome of this long battle, we sincerely thank all of the volunteers who tirelessly worked on this case for so many years–their work was critical in bringing the state of education to the attention of so many. Top

Immigration

The Colorado Lawyers Committee actively supports the efforts of the Immigrant Resource Center (IRC), a nonprofit organization in Alamosa, Colorado. IRC provides low cost immigration services to the local population, which includes more than 40,000 permanent residents and 10,000 migrant and seasonal workers. Many live below the poverty level. Task Force volunteers oversee the services provided by IRC, train its staff (non-attorneys) and provide referrals to pro bono attorneys. Recently, volunteers also began offering telephone consultations every other month to IRC staff and clients. In 2013, the Task Force also co-sponsored a free training for 33 non-immigration lawyers and paralegals willing to assist pre-screened individuals complete their applications for the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program allows certain people who came to the United States as children to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years (subject to renewal); approved individuals become eligible for work authorization. Nancy Elkind (Elkind Alterman Harston PC) and Atim Otii (Otii Law Firm, L.L.C.) co-chair this Task Force. Top

Election Task Force

The Election Task Force was formed in 2004 to monitor the election process and ensure protection of minority voting rights. This bipartisan coalition of volunteers works closely with the Colorado Secretary of State, the Republican and Democratic parties, the specialty bar associations and other key political constituencies to assure collaborative solutions to election issues and changes to the law. Anyone interested in election access issues is invited to participate. The Task Force is co-chaired by Richard Westfall (Hale-Westfall, LLP) and Martha Tierney (Tierney Lawrence LLC).
Recently, the Task Force has focused on two matters: (1) Amicus Brief. The team filed an amicus brief in 2013 urging the Colorado Supreme Court to reinstate the results of a recall election in Center, Colorado. The election had been voided by the Saguache County District Court because of a potential for the secrecy of the ballots to be compromised (the Court found no evidence of ‘fraud, undue influence and intentional wrongdoing’ or proof that secrecy had actually been compromised). In January 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling reversing the trial court’s decision and reinstating the results of the recall election–a success for the voters of Center. (2) Voting Rights Hearing. The Colorado Lawyers Committee co-hosted the Colorado/New Mexico hearing of the National Commission on Voting Rights in March 2014. The hearing, one of 25 scheduled throughout the country, focused on voting discrimination and election administration in Colorado and New Mexico. When the hearings are complete, the Commission will submit a report with its findings to Congress, as it considers revisions to the Voting Rights Act. Top

Taylor Ranch Litigation

The dispute about access to a 77,500 acre mountainous parcel originated with promises made in the mid-1800′s that Mexican settlers on the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant would have access to the mountainous regions near their homes for uses necessary for their survival. In 1960, Jack Taylor purchased and began to fence off land which had been used for grazing, timber, and wood gathering for more than 100 years, causing enormous disruption to the economic and social fabric of the local communities.
The Colorado Lawyers Committee became involved in 1996 and has seen the case through federal court review, two trials, and both appeals. In an historic opinion, the Colorado Supreme Court, in 2003, upheld the rights of plaintiff property owners (whose heirs and predecessors settled the land grant when it was still part of Mexico) in and around San Luis, Colorado to exercise traditional use rights to graze livestock and collect wood and timber on the property known as “La Sierra” or the Taylor Ranch. The Colorado Supreme Court remanded the case to the Costilla County District Court to identify the current landowners who are entitled to access the property based on the test established by the Supreme Court. The District Court determined that certain property owners were not entitled to these rights because their predecessors in title were allegedly served in one of two 1960 quiet title actions. In 2004, the Court began an identification process to identify the current owners of land entitled to access La Sierra. To date, the district court has examined title to over 8,00 parcels of land and found that all but approximately 500 parcels are entitled to access La Sierra. In 2009, more than 300 individuals provided notice that they intended to use La Sierra for either grazing or to gather timber or firewood. The Task Force continues to work to ensure the right of access to the Taylor Ranch by plaintiff class members. A highlight of these efforts was the Torcido Creek Road litigation in 2011, a case spearheaded by Larry Treece and a team of volunteers from Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Schreck, LLP involving the placement of boulders and digging of trenches to block a road leading to the Taylor Ranch. The result was a swift negotiated settlement that restored access to the Taylor Ranch via Torcido Creek Road.
For more information, contact the Task Force Chair, Aaron Boschee (Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP). Top