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
Hot Mama Theft Mitigation Policy
Hot Mama, a national retail chain with three stores in Colorado, has a theft mitigation policy that instructs employees to identify “potential thieves” and follow them around the store until they become uncomfortable and leave. Potential thieves are defined as people who do not “look like typical Hot Mama shoppers.” The store’s....
Cardella v. Town of Castle Rock
This lawsuit, filed under Colorado’s open records law, seeking Castle Rock police department records related to the conduct of a police officer who put innocent civilians in danger in February, 2013, when he fired multiple shots from a semi-automatic rifle at the vehicle of an unarmed fleeing burglary suspect. The Plaintiffs, Michael and Susan....
Criminal Justice, Government Transparency
Hickenlooper v. Freedom From Religion Foundation
Four Colorado taxpayers and the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit in state court seeking a declaration that the Governor’s proclamation of a Day of Prayer violated the “no-preference” clause of Article II, Section 4 of the Colorado Constitution, which states that “[n]or shall any preference be given by law to any religious....
Freedom of Expression & Religion
Mercy Regional Medical Center
In a complaint filed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the ACLU asked the state agency to investigate and stop enforcement of a policy of Mercy Regional Medical Center, a Catholic Hospital in Durango. The complaint asserts that the hospital is relying on the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives to prohibit physicians....
Freedom of Expression & Religion, Reproductive Freedom
Cherry Creek High School Maternity Leave
Cherry Creek High School violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 by failing to allow a pregnant student maternity leave for as long as her doctor determined was necessary. Mia Lopez was informed by the school that she would suffer serious academic consequences, including loss of credits for work she has already done, if her maternity....
Student and Youth Rights, Women’s Rights
Denver Marijuana Ordinance
In 2012, Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which, as a matter of Colorado law, legalized possession, display, transportation, and consumption of less than an ounce of marijuana. The constitutional amendment also states that nothing in the measure permits “openly and publicly” consuming marijuana.
In October, 2013, the Denver City Council....
Criminal Justice, Privacy & Technology