Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 



October 30, 2002

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado (ACLU) announced today a settlement agreement that ends a four-and-a-half-year legal battle between law students and the Colorado Board of Law Examiners over the questions it poses to bar applicants.

The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU on behalf of law students and the ACLU chapter at the Denver University School of Law, alleged that the Board violated the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) and the constitutional right of privacy by requiring applicants to the Colorado bar to answer broad-ranging questions about any past history of substance abuse or any past history of treatment for mental or emotional disorders.


The court fight focused on three questions that the ACLU asserted were far too broad. The ACLU argued that the questions unnecessarily demanded sensitive personal information about past history of treatment that was not necessary to fulfill the Board's function of determining whether applicants are currently fit to practice law.


"The Board has eliminated one of the three questions we challenged in federal court and has made significant modifications to the other two," said Steve Masciocchi, of the law firm of Holland & Hart, who handled the case as an ACLU volunteer cooperating attorney. "The questions now are much more focused and far less intrusive than they were when we first began asking for changes almost five years ago."


One of the questions asked if the applicant had ever received treatment or consulted any person about the use of drugs or alcohol at any time in the past ten years. Another asked about past history of treatment for a wide variety of mental or emotional conditions, and the third inquired about past history of hospitalization for emotional or mental health problems.


"The Board has eliminated entirely the question about hospitalization and it has significantly narrowed the scope of the question about history of treatment for alcohol and drug issues," Masciocchi explained. "In addition, the revised text makes it clear that applicants are not required to reveal information about 'situational counseling' such as grief counseling or relationship counseling."


As part of the settlement agreement, the Board also agreed to make its staff available each fall for a presentation at Colorado's two law schools to inform students about the bar application process and the questions that remain on the bar application.


"The Board deserves credit not only for narrowing the scope of the questions, but also for agreeing to make presentations at the law schools," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. "This outcome helps to protect students' privacy while also reducing their anxieties about what will be expected of them when they fill out the bar application."


The agreement came after a long legal battle over whether the courts had jurisdiction to consider the law students' legal arguments. The case was dismissed by a federal district court in 2000 but reinstated by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001.

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