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  • 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: acluco.org/redemption. 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 https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • 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. 

ACLU Sues Mesa County Judge, Sheriffs Who Caused Boulder Woman 15 Days in Jail Without Opportunity for Pretrial Release

April 27, 2021

DENVER – In a filing this morning in federal district court, ACLU lawyers sued the Chief Judge in Mesa County, Brian Flynn, as well as Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. The complaint alleges that the three defendants are responsible for unnecessarily and unjustifiably causing the ACLU’s client, Michelle Reynolds, to spend fifteen harrowing days locked up in jail with no opportunity to post bond and obtain pretrial release.

“People who are accused of a crime but not convicted are innocent in the eyes of the law,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “The Constitution guarantees a prompt opportunity to post bond and obtain pretrial release from jail. Fifteen days is nowhere near prompt.”

On Friday, August 23, 2019, Ms. Reynolds was driving through Mesa County on her way to watch her niece’s volleyball game when she was stopped for speeding. After a computer check, the officer discovered an outstanding warrant issued ten months earlier by a Boulder judge. Ms. Reynolds had no criminal record and had no idea that a warrant had been issued for her arrest.  She was taken into custody and booked into the Mesa County Jail. Because no bond had been set on the warrant, Ms. Reynolds was forced to remain a prisoner until she appeared before a judge who would set bond. 

It took four days before Ms. Reynolds appeared by video before a Mesa County judge for her first judicial appearance. Colorado law clearly required the judge to set bond for Ms. Reynolds, but the judge did not. According to the ACLU’s lawsuit, an administrative order issued a year earlier by Chief Judge Flynn, in violation of Colorado law, instructed Mesa County judges not to set or modify bonds for defendants who are arrested on warrants from other counties. 

The Mesa and Boulder Sheriff’s Offices agreed to share responsibility for transporting Ms. Reynolds to Boulder, where she could appear before a judge who would set bond. The ACLU’s complaint, based on communications exchanged between the sheriff’s offices, alleges that both knew that the Mesa County courts would not set bond and that Ms. Reynolds would languish in jail until she appeared before a Boulder judge. Nevertheless, they delayed transport until it was convenient for them, causing a delay of 15 days before Ms. Reynolds finally appeared in Boulder.

The Boulder judge released her on a personal recognizance bond, meaning that she was not a flight risk, nor a threat to public safety, and was not required to post any money. Shortly afterwards, the charge against her was dropped. 

“From the day Ms. Reynolds was arrested, both sheriff’s offices knew that a Mesa County judge would not set bond and that she would remain in jail until she could appear before a Boulder judge,” said John A. Culver, of the Denver law firm, Benezra & Culver, PC, who is litigating the case as an ACLU Cooperating Attorney. “Every day that they callously delayed transporting her meant another day they were forcing her to remain in jail, in violation of her constitutional right to an opportunity to prompt pretrial release. Her release on a PR bond and the quick subsequent dropping of the charges shows that there was no valid reason to put her through the suffering of more than two weeks of unnecessary and unjustified pretrial incarceration.” 

While waiting for pretrial release, Ms. Reynolds lost her job as a hospice caregiver. She was assaulted in the Mesa County Jail and spent succeeding days terrified that it could happen again. “The traumatic events that occurred during my wrongfully incarcerated 15 days did not end once I was released,” Ms. Reynolds said, “The emotional distress will be with me for the rest of my life. It’s absolutely tragic and appalling how broken the legal system truly is.”

Over the years, the ACLU has fielded repeated complaints that persons held in one county on a warrant from a different county experience unjustified delays in seeing a judge or in setting bail. In 2017, the ACLU sued on behalf of a man who spent 52 days in the Teller County Jail on an out-of-county warrant without seeing a judge. 

“To protect the constitutional right to a prompt opportunity for pretrial release, the legislature should ensure that bond is set no later than 48-hours after an arrest,” Silverstein said. “A bill currently pending in the Colorado legislature, HB 21-1280, would do exactly that.” 

Ms. Reynolds is represented by Silverstein and Culver as well as ACLU Staff Attorney Arielle Herzberg and ACLU Cooperating Attorney Anna Fullerton.  

 RESOURCES:

Read the full complaint

Learn the facts about HB 21-1280

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The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.

ACLU Demanda al Juez del Condado de Mesa y a los Alguaciles que Causaron 15 Días en la Cárcel a una Mujer de Boulder sin Oportunidad de ser Liberada Antes del Juicio

DENVER – En una presentación esta mañana en el tribunal de distrito federal, los abogados de la ACLU demandaron al juez principal del condado de Mesa, Brian Flynn, así como al alguacil del condado de Mesa, Matt Lewis y al alguacil del condado de Boulder, Joe Pelle. La demanda alega que los tres acusados ​​son responsables de causar innecesaria e injustificadamente que la clienta de la ACLU, Michelle Reynolds, pasó quince días angustiosos encerrada en la cárcel sin oportunidad de pagar una fianza y obtener la libertad previa al juicio.

“Las personas acusadas de un delito pero no condenadas son inocentes a los ojos de la ley”, dijo Mark Silverstein, director legal de la ACLU de Colorado. “La Constitución nos garantiza una oportunidad rápida para pagar una fianza y obtener la libertad previa al juicio de la cárcel. Quince días no es ni mucho menos pronto.”

El viernes 23 de agosto de 2019, la Sra. Reynolds conducía por el condado de Mesa en camino a ver el juego de voleibol de su sobrina cuando la detuvieron por exceso de velocidad. Después de una verificación por computadora, el oficial descubrió una orden pendiente emitida diez meses antes por un juez de Boulder. La Sra. Reynolds no tenía antecedentes penales y no tenía idea de que se había emitido una orden de arresto contra ella. Fue detenida e ingresada en la cárcel del condado de Mesa. Debido a que no se había fijado una fianza en la orden, la Sra. Reynolds se vio obligada a permanecer prisionera hasta comparecer ante un juez que establecería la fianza.

Pasaron cuatro días antes de que la Sra. Reynolds apareciera en video ante un juez del condado de Mesa para su primera comparecencia judicial. La ley de Colorado claramente requería que el juez fijará una fianza para la Sra. Reynolds, pero el juez no lo hizo. Según la demanda de la ACLU, una orden administrativa emitida un año antes por el juez principal Flynn, en violación de la ley de Colorado, instruyó a los jueces del condado de Mesa que no establezcan ni modifiquen la fianza para los acusados ​​que son arrestados por órdenes de otros condados.

Las oficinas del alguacil de Mesa y Boulder acordaron compartir la responsabilidad de transportar a la Sra. Reynolds a Boulder, donde podría comparecer ante un juez que establecería una fianza. La denuncia de la ACLU, basada en comunicaciones intercambiadas entre las oficinas del alguacil, alega que ambas sabían que los tribunales del condado de Mesa no establecerían fianza y que la Sra. Reynolds languidecerá en la cárcel hasta que comparecerá ante un juez de Boulder. Sin embargo, retrasaron el transporte hasta que fue conveniente para ellos, lo que provocó un retraso de 15 días antes de que la Sra. Reynolds finalmente apareciera en Boulder.

El juez de Boulder la liberó con una fianza de reconocimiento personal, lo que significa que no era un riesgo de fuga, ni una amenaza para la seguridad pública, y no estaba obligada a depositar dinero. Poco después, se retiraron los cargos en su contra.

“Desde el día en que arrestaron a la Sra. Reynolds, ambas oficinas del alguacil sabían que un juez del condado de Mesa no establecería fianza y que ella permanecería en la cárcel hasta que pudiera comparecer ante un juez de Boulder,” dijo John A. Culver, del despacho de abogados de Denver, Benezra & Culver, PC, quien está litigando el caso como abogado colaborador de la ACLU. “Cada día que demoraban cruelmente su transporte significaba otro día que la obligaban a permanecer en la cárcel, en violación de su derecho constitucional a la oportunidad de una pronta liberación antes del juicio. Su liberación bajo una fianza de reconocimiento personal y la rápida retirada posterior de los cargos muestra que no había razón válida para hacerla pasar por el sufrimiento de más de dos semanas de encarcelamiento previo al juicio innecesario e injustificado.”

Mientras esperaba la liberación previa al juicio, la Sra. Reynolds perdió su trabajo como cuidadora de cuidados paliativos. Fue agredida en la cárcel del condado de Mesa y pasó los días siguientes aterrorizada de que pudiera volver a suceder. “Los eventos traumáticos que ocurrieron durante mis 15 días encarcelados injustamente no terminaron una vez que fui liberada,” dijo la Sra. Reynolds, “La angustia emocional estará conmigo por el resto de mi vida. Es absolutamente trágico y espantoso lo quebrado que es realmente el sistema legal.”

A lo largo de los años, la ACLU ha recibido repetidas quejas de que las personas detenidas en un condado con una orden judicial de otro condado experimentan demoras injustificadas para ver a un juez o fijar una fianza. En 2017, la ACLU demandó en nombre de un hombre que pasó 52 días en la cárcel del condado de Teller por una orden judicial fuera del condado sin ver a un juez.

“Para proteger el derecho constitucional a una oportunidad inmediata de libertad previa al juicio, la legislatura debe asegurarse de que la fianza se establezca a más tardar 48 horas después del arresto,” dijo Silverstein. “Un proyecto de ley actualmente pendiente en la legislatura de Colorado, HB 21-1280, haría exactamente eso.”

La Sra. Reynolds está representada por Silverstein y Culver, así como por la abogada del personal de la ACLU, Arielle Herzberg, y la abogada cooperante de la ACLU, Anna Fullerton.

RECURSOS:

Aprende mas sobre HB 21-1280 

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ACLU de Colorado es la organización de derechos civiles más antigua del estado, que protege y defiende los derechos civiles de todos los habitantes de Colorado a través del litigio, la educación y la defensa.

 

    

 



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