Other Current Projects

The following projects are not actively seeking new volunteers. However, if you’re interested in joining one of these efforts, please contact us.

Poverty & Public Benefits

Civil Rights & Criminal Law

Immigration

CBMS Litigation

Ten years ago, Colorado implemented a new computer system to streamline the processing of public benefits (the Computer Benefit Management System [CBMS]). From the beginning, the new system improperly denied or delayed essential public benefits, resulting in serious and life-threatening problems for Colorado citizens. In August 2004, members of the CBMS Task Force became involved in litigation with the State; the team ultimately obtained a court order requiring the State to meaningfully reduce the backlog of benefits applications, substantially correct the notice problems, establish an 800-number for people in emergency situations, and handle these emergency matters within 5 business days. The case was subsequently settled. The team continues to monitor the State’s progress and compliance with Federal law and the requirements of the settlement. Jay Sturhahn (Sherman & Howard L.L.C.) is the Chair of this Task Force. Top

Food Stamps Task Force

This Task Force was created in 2008 to examine the delay in processing Food Stamp applications in certain Colorado counties. At that time, individuals and families in certain counties were experiencing lengthy delays that far exceeded the federal regulation requiring a non-emergency application for food assistance be processed within 30 days of receipt, or 7 days in cases of emergencies. Due to these long delays, many people living in Colorado were struggling to feed themselves. The Task Force entered into negotiations with Denver County to improve the efficiency of its Food Stamps processing system. As a result, the County completely overhauled its procedures, improving its compliance rate with federally mandated timelines from 60% to over 90%. The Task Force continues to monitor Denver and other counties.  Blain Myhre (Blain Myhre LLC) chairs this Task Force. Top

Health Care for Community Corrections Residents

Since 2009, this Task Force (originally a subcommittee of the Mental Health Task Force) has been working on strategies to assure that individuals who participate in Colorado’s Community Corrections program have access to health care. Originally, the Task Force focused on urgent medical care through the Colorado Indigent Care Program for mentally ill individuals; more recently, the scope of its work has been on health care benefits for the approximately 4,000 individuals who participate in Colorado’s Community Corrections program each year. The federal government has taken the position that these individuals are ‘in custody’ and therefore are not eligible for federal health care benefits; as a result, they have not been able to receive care under the Colorado Indigent Care Program and now also are ineligible for Medicaid or benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Presently, the only health care options for these individuals are to seek treatment in emergency rooms, where the cost of treatment is significantly higher, or for more serious needs like cancer or a problem pregnancy, reoffend and return to prison to receive health care. Currently, the Task Force is collaborating with State officials and local agencies to encourage the Federal government to reevaluate its position. The Task Force is co-chaired by Bobbee Musgrave (Bryan Cave LLP) and Jessica Yates (Snell & Wilmer). Top

Health Care Reform

After years of experience with CBMS (see above), the Colorado Lawyers Committee volunteers, along with Colorado Legal Services and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, were deeply concerned about the impact on Colorado’s poorest populations of the implementation in 2013 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the expansion of Medicaid. In 2011 and again in 2013, this group expressed their concerns in letters to Governor Hickenlooper. After several meetings with State officials to outline the concerns, volunteers have continued to monitor problems with the ACA implementation, and meet frequently with the Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing to discuss individual and systemic issues. Jay Sturhahn (Sherman & Howard L.L.C.) is the Chair of this Task Force. Top

ID Task Force

This Task Force was formed in 2006 to address systemic barriers facing homeless individuals in obtaining Colorado identification cards, without which they are unable to secure housing, employment and other services. In December 2006, Task Force volunteers obtained a court order granting their Motion for Preliminary Injunction and requiring the Colorado Department of Revenue to adopt regulations regarding the issuance of ID cards and to establish procedures to provide due process to individuals who are denied IDs. In 2008, in an effort to gather experience about the regulations and to determine if systemic issues remain, the Task Force agreed to identify 25 lawyers who could represent individuals and assist them in obtaining ID’s. During 2009 and 2010, 32 volunteers donated an estimated 2,000 hours and represented 28 individuals; it took an average of 60 attorney hours and 7.8 months to obtain a single ID. In 2010, Task Force members also aided in the passage of SB 6 which permits felons to change their names under certain circumstances, making it possible for them to obtain IDs. In 2012, the Task Force joined efforts with the Election Task Force to examine a proposal that would require individuals to present a government-issued ID to vote. It was determined that such a proposal would disenfranchise significant numbers of voters, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and those Native Americans whose sole form of identification is a Tribal ID.  The Task Force presented these issues at a meeting with the Secretary of State Scott Gessler. In early 2013, at the request of the Lawyers Committee, Governor Hickenlooper’s office established the Joint ID Task Force to address barriers to obtaining IDs. The Task Force includes representatives from the Colorado Lawyers Committee, Colorado Legal Services, the Department of Revenue and the Division of Motor Vehicles. The group meets monthly to discuss ongoing issues, both systemic problems and isolated issues. Top

Medicaid Appeals

This team was formed in 2013 after concern that additional resources might be required to assist Colorado Legal Services and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy with requests for help from individuals who had been denied either Medicaid or Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies (see Health Care Reform above). More than 20 volunteer lawyers received training on the ACA and the appeals process in October 2013. Several teams have been asked to provide assistance to individuals who have encountered issues with Medicaid coverage, but the anticipated flood of cases has thankfully not materialized. Top

Mental Health Task Force

This Task Force examines significant issues that relate to the delivery of mental health services for children and the underprivileged in Colorado and explores ways to increase access to such services. Most recently, this Task Force focused on treatment and diagnosis of individuals with mental health issues in jails. In 2011, a subcommittee of volunteers, led by Iris Eytan (Reilly Pozner LLP), filed Center for Legal Advocacy v. Bicha, which challenged the failure of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo to provide timely competency evaluations and treatment for mentally ill individuals in jail. Prior to the lawsuit, those individuals were forced to wait in jail for as long as six months, sometimes for periods of time that exceeded the possible sentences for the crimes with which they were charged. The case settled in April 2012, resulting in a landmark agreement that requires the State to evaluate or begin medical treatment of any person who is presumptively incompetent within 28 days of receiving a court order to do so. This agreement was phased into every Colorado county over a 15-month time period. Anyone interested in mental health issues should contact Iris Eytan (Reilly Pozner LLP) and Jessica Yates (Snell & Wilmer), the Co-Chairs of this Task Force. Top

Sheepherders’ Rights

This team was created in 2013 to work on strategies to help improve conditions for migrant sheepherders in Colorado. Currently, there are 2,000 sheepherders in the United States, the majority of whom come from Peru or Mexico. Of those, 300-400 reside in Colorado and migrated to the state under federal migrant worker regulations that have not changed in 50 years. Sheepherders in Colorado often work and live in brutal conditions, sometimes earning less than $2 per hour and working 80-90 hours per week without access to proper housing, food, water, or medical care. Others are unable to leave at will. In 2014, the team will explore legislative and other solutions to improve sheepherders’ working and living conditions. Lauren Schmidt (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP) is the Chair of this effort. Top