Tag Archives: Colorado Supreme Court

Michael Bender Named Chief Justice of Colo. Supreme Court

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Michael Bender was just voted in by his colleagues as Chief Justice, replacing the retiring Mary Mullarkey.  Bender, along with Mullarkey and Justices Nancy Rice and Alex Martinez, were the targets of a no retention effort by Clear the Bench Colorado.  The effort may  well have precipitated Mullarkey’s retirement.  And though the other three justices held on to their posts, the opposition garnered an unprecedented approximate 40 percent of the vote.

To his credit, Bender doesn’t have the usual cookie-cutter government prosecutor background (see Colorado public disgrace, DA Mark Hurlbert, here and here).    Unlike most recent appointees to the courts in Colorado and the rest of the country, Bender worked in private practice from 1979 until he was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1997.  He also did stints in the Jefferson County, Denver, and state public defender’s offices and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  He will officially replace Mullarkey on November 30.


Ritter To Appoint Lesbian Activist Deputy Atty. General Monica Marquez To Colo. Supreme Court

As anticipated, lame duck Colorado Governor Bill Ritter will appoint lesbian activist, Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez to replace Mary Mullarkey on Colorado’s embattled Supreme Court, according to a report by the Denver Post’s top political correspondent, Lynn Bartels.


Marquez has the needed pedigree.  A law degree from Yale,  Lesbian activism, and a dad who was the first Hispanic to serve on the Colorado Court of Appeals.  We don’t know much more about Marquez or the other two finalists  as they all jointly refused to speak to the public, despite their contact information being provided for exactly that purpose.

She would be the second Hispanic to serve on the Colorado Supremes, and perhaps the only one  should Justice Alex Martinez lose his bid for retention in November.  Marquez, who obtained her law degree in 1997,  has scant experience – and almost all of it defending state government and its employees.  A much nicer photo of Marquez sporting a more stylish haircut is here, together with photos of her co-finalists. [deleted because Law week web site infected with malware]

Anyone who thinks Marquez’ votes on any of the disputed tax and other issues of legitimate concern to the public would be any different from Mary Mullarkey’s votes is delusional.

Clear the Bench Colorado may well have prompted Chief Justice Mullarkey’s resignation, and they and tireless Director Matt Arnold should be applauded for that effort.  It’s an important first step.

But until we achieve systemic change in the judicial branch, we are doing nothing more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Worse, we fool people into believing that cosmetic cures mean something when they don’t.  Such deception will only slow reform, not aid it.  What Bill Ritter has given us appears to be a younger, more virile model of Mullarkey.

Colorado Theatre Company Will Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Snub Out Farcical Theatrical Smoking Ban Decision

In an opinion issued last month that gave short-shrift to almost every freedom of expression issue raised, the Colorado Supreme Court, in an en banc 6-1 decision, voted to uphold Colorado’s ban on indoor smoking even in the context of a an actor  smoking a tobacco substitute on stage.  Here’s the complete opinion in Curious Theatre Company v. Colorado Dept. of Public Health, including a fuming dissent by a more artistically informed Justice Hobbs.  I can’t blame the Colorado Supremes for going en banc.  I wouldn’t want to sign my name to this opinion either.

The decision is the first in the nation to address the issue to what extent the First Amendment protects theatrical smoking.   If the U.S. Supreme Court were to grant the Petitioner’s sought after review, the case could become a landmark free expression decision.

A candy cigarette and a beaker of dry ice are what actors in Denver have been reduced to, thanks to politically correct application of the indoor smoking ban by Colorado's Supreme Court. (Photo: Todd Webster)

The majority opinion failed to lend a breath to the principle that theatrical smoking is protected expressive conduct, and inserted its inexpert literary judgment that a fake cigarette and a beaker of dry ice would do just fine to convey the intent of the script and director. This photo demonstrates otherwise.

Justice Hobbs’ 20-page dissent smokes out the errancy of the majority’s reasoning.  He points out that  plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would suffer serious distortion of their expressive intent if smoke could not hang over the stage or be expelled from a character’s mouth.  In the stage production of The Graduate, for example, “the exhale of smoke shows Mrs. Robinson’s power over young Benjamin.”   The script directs Mrs. Robinson to take a drag, kiss Benjamin, and then exhale after their lips part.  She then begins to take off her clothes and jewelry.

But when Mrs. Robinson “smoked” a fake cigarette in a Colorado production of the play, the audience burst out laughing.  This judicially altered script distorts the meaning of the dramatist and creates a play within a play, where Colorado’s  smoking ban becomes an unintended farcical secondary theme.

And of course theatrical smoking can become a political statement about smoking and smoking bans itself, as in Smoking Bloomberg the Musical. All the artistic expression arguments, however,  seemed to just waft over the heads of the statist and philistine Colorado justices.  Elizabeth Taylor will probably be as upset as I am when she gets a whiff of this ruling.

Colorado is one of only three states in the U.S. whose ban on indoor smoking both extends to theatrical productions and also bans non tobacco clove or tea leaf cigarettes as less restrictive alternatives.  Ohio is another one, but there play producers are disregarding the ban and taking their chances.  Cleveland Plain Dealer theatre critic Tony Brown has a great take on the issue.

Curious Theatre Company was joined in the case by several amicus parties, including the ACLU, The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, and the National Dramatists Guild.  Presumably these parties and more will join in the cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court urging that this ruling goes down in flames.

Onion Ridicules Colorado Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court is currently undergoing a no-retention campaign for four activist judges that seem to have it in for the property rights of private citizens.  The Onion notes that they have now outlawed “Same-sex friendships.”

Colorado’s People’s Press Collective has the audio spoof and the details behind the no-retention campaign.