The ACLU of Colorado’s Legal Department works to protect and defend civil liberties through litigation as well as legal advocacy outside the courtroom. With five full-time attorneys on staff, the ACLU also relies on the work of dedicated volunteer cooperating attorneys from around the state who are willing to donate their time and talent to assist our struggle for liberty.
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?
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.
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.
Litigation & Legal Advocacy
Bailey v. Teller County
The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit against the Pueblo and Teller County Sheriff’s Offices on behalf of Michael Bailey, who was held in jail for 52 days on a years-old misdemeanor warrant awaiting his first appearance before a judge.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
On Sept. 8,....
Aragon v. Raemisch (Hepatitis C Litigation)
The ACLU of Colorado filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the Colorado Department of Corrections’ systematic denial of life-saving treatment to more than 2,200 prisoners suffering from chronic Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a life-threatening, communicable disease that attacks the liver, causing diminished liver function, cirrhosis, and....
Denver Parks Exclusion Directive
The ACLU of Colorado sent a letter on January 25, 2017 demanding that the Denver Parks Department stop enforcement of an unconstitutional and ineffective temporary directive authorizing police to summarily banish people from city parks, without a hearing, conviction, or other due process, based on mere suspicion of illegal drug activity.
Criminal Justice, Criminalization of Homelessness
Cunningham v. Birch (Hepatitis C Treatment Restrictions)
The ACLU of Colorado filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of low-income Coloradans suffering from Hepatitis C who have been denied access to life-saving treatment due to Colorado Medicaid restrictions that force them to incur serious harm to their health before gaining access to the cure.
Hepatitis C is a life-threatening,....
Loitering for the Purpose of Begging
The ACLU of Colorado sent a letter to 34 Colorado municipalities that make it a crime to “loiter for the purpose of begging,” and demanded that municipal authorities stop enforcement and take immediate steps to repeal the “legally indefensible” ordinances.
The ordinances that prohibit “loitering for the purpose of begging” are far broader....
Smith V. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The ACLU of Colorado filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit challenging a practice by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of withholding documents, without legal justification, that immigration lawyers require to advocate for clients that the agency deems to be “fugitives.”
Jennifer Smith, an immigration attorney, filed a FOIA....