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.
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?
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.
Litigation & Legal Advocacy
Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales
This case raises the question of when, if ever, a victim of domestic violence who obtains a court order of protection can sue for damages caused by the failure of police officers who ignore repeated pleas to enforce that order.
In 1999, a court granted Jessica Gonzales a protective order barring her estranged and unstable husband from contact....
Criminal Legal Reform, Women’s Rights
Sheline v. Ortiz
This lawsuit was filed on behalf of Timothy Sheline, an Orthodox Jewish prisoner in the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC). His sincerely-held religious beliefs require that he maintain a kosher diet, which the DOC was providing until April, 2005. The DOC revoked Mr. Sheline’s kosher diet because a guard in the dining hall reported that....
Criminal Legal Reform, Freedom of Expression & Religion
Nguyen v. Gonzales
In this case, the ACLU challenges a federal regulation that imposes indefinite, potentially life-long detention on certain immigrants who are subject to final orders of removal (deportation) but cannot be sent back to their home counties. The former Immigration and Naturalization Service adopted the challenged regulation in response to the Supreme Court’s....
Criminal Legal Reform, Immigrants’ Rights
ACLU v. Vallario
In June, 2006, ACLU attorneys traveled to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to investigate prisoners’ complaints about abusive practices in the Garfield County Jail. (The practices under investigation are the subject of a separate class action lawsuit, Vandehey v. Vallario, filed in July, 2006). ACLU attorneys reviewed documents requested under the Colorado....
Criminal Legal Reform, Freedom of Expression & Religion, Racial Justice
Vandehey v. Vallario
This class action, filed July 19, 2006, alleges that prisoners in the Garfield County Jail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, are subjected to a pervasive pattern of disproportionate and excessive force carried out by deputies’ misuse and abuse of pepperball guns, restraint chairs, tasers, electroshock belts, and pepper spray. The jail has no written....
Criminal Legal Reform
Quezada v. Mink
This suit, filed on behalf of Colorado resident Luis Quezada, asserts that Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink illegally imprisoned the ACLU’s client for 47 days in 2009 simply because federal immigration authorities suspected that Mr. Quezada was here in violation of federal immigration laws.
In May, 2009, Mr. Quezada was arrested and taken to....
Criminal Legal Reform, Immigrants’ Rights