Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.



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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