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. 


November 3, 1998

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today on behalf of an Aspen citizens group that has been charged with failing to inform the government of the names of its donors and supporters.

According to the lawsuit, the Common Sense Alliance, which has taken positions on a variety of local issues in the last several years, faces an imminent risk of prosecution after an administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled last Thursday that the organization is an "issue committee" that violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act, which Colorado voters enacted as Amendment 15 in 1996.

The lawsuit contends that the ALJ misread state law and interpreted it too broadly. It further contends the ALJ’s view of state law, if upheld, would violate the First Amendment rights of the Common Sense Alliance as well as numerous other groups that express views on matters of public concern.

Laws regulating elections distinguish between campaigns for candidates and campaigns in support of ballot issues. Groups that are formed for the primary purpose of accepting donations and taking positions on ballot issues are defined as "issue committees" under Colorado law, and they are required to file regular reports disclosing information about their spending and their supporters.

In its two years of existence, the Common Sense Alliance has taken positions on eleven different local ballot propositions on issues that have included home rule charter amendments, tax issues, environmental issues, and public transportation. It has also endorsed candidates for local office, sponsored fora on local issues, and has conducted voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote campaigns.

According to the lawsuit, the ALJ acknowledged that when the Common Sense Alliance formed in 1996, it was not an "issue committee." Nevertheless, the ALJ ruled that the Alliance "evolved" into an issue committee because of its activities in support of a Pitkin County ballot measure in the summer of 1998.

The Alliance opposes the plans of local officials to promote a lightrail system for the Aspen area. In the summer of 1998, Common Sense Alliance launched a successful drive to place a measure on the ballot, which, if passed, would establish a date for cutting off any further studies to advance the light rail idea until a source of funding was in place.

According to the Alliance, some of its supporters and donors insist on anonymity because they are afraid of reprisals from local officials who strongly support the addition of lightrail to the areas’ transportation system.

"The Common Sense Alliance is not an issue committee under Colorado law," said Ed Ramey, who filed the case as a volunteer cooperating attorney for the ACLU. "It was not formed for the primary purpose of soliciting and spending money on campaigns relating to ballot issues."

Ramey further explained that Colorado law determines whether a group is an issue committee by looking at its primary purpose at the time it was formed. "The ALJ’s contrary view means that hundreds of organizations that take positions on public issues could suddenly be subject to special disclosure and reporting requirements depending on how a government official views the organization’s focus at any particular moment," Ramey continued. "Advocacy organizations like the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and even the ACLU, which have never been subject to the Campaign Practices Act, would be subject to potential penalties under an impermissibly vague standard that poses too great a risk of chilling their constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights to solicit support from their members and spend money to express their views. If the ALJ’s ruling stands, then advocacy groups will never know when or whether some government official might decide that, for some undefined and unspecified period of time, they had ‘evolved’ into an issue organization."

"It makes no sense to apply the law to the Common Sense Alliance," said Jeffrey Evans, the organization’s current treasurer and formerly its chair. "Are we supposed to form a separate organization every time we take a position on a ballot issue? That would have required us to have formed at least eleven separate organizations, all filing regular reports with the government. No one should have to hire a lawyer to express views about issues of public concern."

Under the Fair Campaign Practices Act, the ALJ’s ruling will be forwarded to the Pitkin County District Attorney, who has the option to file criminal charges. Defendants are Pitkin County Attorney John M. Ely, District Attorney Mac Myers of the Ninth Judicial District, Secretary of State Victoria Buckley, and Attorney General Gale Norton.

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