21 April 2014

How many attorneys are there in Colorado?

As of December 31, 2013, there were 25,496 active attorneys in Colorado and 12,196 inactive attorneys in the state.  I always knew that there were a significant number of inactive attorneys' in the state, but had never imagined that it was 32.4% of the total (almost a third).

Over the course of the year, the state added 1,877 new attorneys and lost 983 attorneys (mostly to death).  Of the new attorneys', however, 560 were admitted on a limited basis for a single client only, as pro hac vice attorneys in a single case, or in one case, as a temporary law processor for the duration of his or her tenure.

After removing those attorneys from the rolls, the number of new attorneys net of lost attorneys was only 334, an increase of 1.3% which is slightly less than the 1.5% growth in population that Colorado experienced in that year.

Larimer County Judge Is Suspended, Publicly Censured And Resigns

Larimer County, Colorado Judge Robert A. Rand was suspended on July 3, 2013 and then accepted a resolution of his case in which he received a public censure (in case 13SA172) from the Colorado Supreme Court, and resigned on February 10, 2014.  Somehow, I managed to miss the news when it happened.

The censure identifies seven instances when he made inappropriate joking comments about people who encountered in the court, six of which were sexist.  It identifies two instances of inappropriate ex parte communications, one as a result of technological ignorance about how to do a conference call and a more serious case where he talked to a former paralegal related to a married couple coming before him as criminal defendants and failed to recuse himself.  It also identifies numerous inappropriate, off the record discussions with criminal defendants after proceedings ended.

The disciplinary counsel has identified problems created by the excessive confidentiality requirements involved in the formal judicial disciplinary process that is rarely invoked.

On the whole, it is reassuring that Colorado's judicial disciplinary process manage to bring about the resignation of a judge who engaged in repeated, albeit minor, judicial ethics violations, without the intense political tussle of a legislative impeachment proceeding or cumbersome and not always well informed process of a retention election.

Pot Liberalization Not Linked To More Crime

[A] new report contends that fourteen years later, even after Colorado legalized the sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use on Jan. 1 of this year, violent and property crime rates in the city are actually falling.

According to data from the Denver Police Department, violent crime (including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) fell by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013. Property crime (including burglary, larceny, auto theft, theft from motor vehicle and arson) dropped by 11.1%.

A study looking at the legalization of medical marijuana nationwide, published late last month in the journal PLOS ONE, found that the trend holds: Not only does medical marijuana legalization not correlate with an uptick in crime, researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas argue it may actually reduce it. Using statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and controlling for variables like the unemployment and poverty rates; per capita income; age of residents; proportion of residents with college degree; number of police officers and prisoners; and even beer consumption, researchers analyzed data from all 50 states between 1990 and 2006....

“The central finding gleaned from the present study was that MML (medical marijuana legalization) is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault. Interestingly, robbery and burglary rates were unaffected by medicinal marijuana legislation, which runs counter to the claim that dispensaries and grow houses lead to an increase in victimization due to the opportunity structures linked to the amount of drugs and cash that are present.”
From here.


* Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado in which:
[A] gunfight broke out between members of the Colorado National Guard and striking coal miners employed by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company near Trinidad, Colorado. During the fighting in and around a tent encampment of striking miners, eleven children and two women were killed when the tent above a pit they were taking shelter from the fighting in was set on fire. This event became known as the Ludlow Massacre, and shocked the nation into a greater awareness of the poor working conditions and exploitative "company town" economic predation faced by coal miners.
Today, all mine workers in the U.S. have a right to unionize and a very large percentage do (unlike the bulk of the private sector work force in which unionization is at pre-labor law lows), and safety standards in mining are much higher, mostly as a result of the Mine Safety and Health Administration which rivals the National Transportation Safety Board which regulated air and rail traffic safety, for its effectiveness (in stark contrast to the largely ineffectual (outside of manufacturing) Occupational Health and Safety Administration, OSHA, which has never had sufficient funding relative to its regulatory jurisdiction to make much of a difference).

The creation of a "company union" in the wake of the Ludlow massacre by Rockefeller's Colorado Fuel and Iron Company to prevent a real union with a more aggressive stance from filling the vacuum is one of the reasons that current U.S. law prohibits such unions which are common in places like Japan.

But, coal mining remains a very dangerous profession relative to most other professions even today. There are far more coal mining and transportation and power plant deaths than there are deaths from nuclear power to workers and non-workers alike, for example. In recent years, many of the reduced deaths are due to automation rather than improved safety standards. Abroad, for example in China, safety standards for miners are much lower and there are many deaths.

Worker's compensation, another aftermath of that era has been a mixed blessing, making some compensation for injured or killed workers almost automatic, but providing stingy amounts of compensation that are overrun with red tape.

I can't recall the last time that the National Guard was called upon in any state to put down union activity, and the Kent State shooting of war protesters in Ohio, on May 4, 1970, before I was born, is one of the last notable times the National Guard killed U.S. civilians, although the National Guard was called upon to provide civil security in the wake 9-11 at airports and has been called upon to deal with civil unrest now and then on many occasions, generally under the direction of state governors rather than when called up to federal duty when the Posse Comitatus Act (arguably one of the most important parts of the "unwritten constitution" in the United States) applies.

* It was also the day critical in the marijuana subculture, that evolved from a group of kids who smoked pot in California after school at that time in 1971, after which the number began to be associated with marijuana generally, and then morphed into a month and day instead of an hour and minute. One of the biggest events honoring this date in the Denver area was the Cannabis Cup at the Denver Merchandise Mart organized by High Times magazine, which had thousands of visitors paying $40 or so a head to get into to see the vendors and events. It was the 40th time the event was held and the first in a state with legalized recreational marijuana. The crowd was well behaved and there were few incidents of note.

* It was also Hitler's birthday,

* And, this year, it was Easter.  Incidentally, one of the main historical investments of the Roman Catholic Church in astronomy (which continues to this day) originally involved the effort to correctly determine the date of Easter. The Vatican observatory is one of the reasons that this Christian denomination embraces the Big Bang and an allegorical, rather than literal, reading of the creation story in the Bible.

11 April 2014

Break In Blogging

I will be consumed with a trial in a civil case where I represent a party as an attorney that is being held in Pueblo, Colorado for the next week or so.  Therefore, blog posting will be light or non-existent.