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. 


ACLU Sues to Stop Weld County Criminal Libel Investigation


January 8, 2004


The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today in federal district court seeking an emergency order to stop Weld County law enforcement authorities from pursuing a criminal investigation and prosecution of Thomas Mink, the publisher of an Internet-based publication that features satiric commentary on issues of public concern to the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) community.


The Howling Pig, which is available at, began publishing in the fall of 2003. After three issues, the lawsuit says, the Greeley Police Department appeared at Mr. Mink’s home with a search warrant, announced that they were investigating a felony charge of “criminal libel,” and confiscated Mr. Mink’s computer and all electronically-stored files and data. Police were acting on a complaint filed by Junius Peake, a well-known UNC professor who is spoofed in Mr. Mink’s publication.


Colorado’s rarely-used criminal libel statute makes it a crime to publish statements “tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or to impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or expose the natural defects of one who is alive.” A number of antiquated statutes with similar language have been held unenforceable in other states.


According to the ACLU, a criminal prosecution under Colorado’s criminal libel statute violates the right of free expression and freedom of the press. “The Howling Pig consists of satire, parody, opinion, and other expression that is fully protected by the Constitution,” said Bruce Jones, of Holland & Hart, an ACLU cooperating attorney who filed the lawsuit. “Colorado’s criminal libel statute should not and can not convert constitutionally-protected expression into a jailable offense.”


“This case illustrates the danger of permitting overbroad unconstitutional statutes to remain on the books,” said Marcy Glenn, a Holland & Hart attorney who is co-counsel for the ACLU. “Police relied on this unconstitutional statute to search Mr. Mink’s home and cart off his computer and all his files on the ground that they provide ‘evidence’ of crime.”


“There is no legitimate place for a criminal libel statute in a free society,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director. “Civil lawsuits provide an adequate remedy for defamation. No one should be threatened with jail for what they write or publish.”

The ACLU is asking for a declaratory judgment that the criminal libel statute is unconstitutional and an emergency order blocking prosecution. The lawsuit also alleges that the search and seizure violates the Fourth Amendment and seeks the immediate return of Mr. Mink’s computer and files.


Defendants in the lawsuit are Weld County District Attorney A.J. Dominguez, Jr., the City of Greeley, and Detective Ken Warren of the Greeley Police Department. The lawsuit also names John Doe #1, who is identified as the unknown assistant district attorney who reviewed the application and approved the application for search warrant.

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