More details emerge on group formed to oppose accountability for Colorado Supreme Court incumbents
Initial reports in mid-May (story broken by Law Week Online) about a well-funded group formed specifically to counter the growing momentum and success of the grassroots judicial accountability organization Clear The Bench Colorado in raising public awareness about the issue of judicial accountability in Colorado were substantiated Tuesday (June 1st) with additional details on the key members and name of the organization.
Again, Law Week Online breaks the story (“Group Aiming To Defend Colo. Judiciary Comes To Light“):
Well-known figures in Colorado legal circles have quietly filed paperwork creating an organization to defend the state’s judiciary amid a campaign to force four state justices into retirement.
Former Colorado Public Defender David Kaplan and Berenbaum Weinshienk attorney James Kurtz-Phelan incorporated the Colorado Judiciary Project, briefly known as the Colorado Judicial Project, with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office in early April.
Trey Rogers, who only a month before the filing served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Bill Ritter, filed the group’s paperwork.
The effort comes as Clear the Bench Colorado, a local group, continues a campaign encouraging voters to vote against retaining Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey and justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez and Nancy Rice.
Strangely enough, all of the “well-known figures” mentioned in the article are prominent advocates for the Democrat Party – according to OpenSecrets.org, Kaplan has contributed a couple thousand to Democrat candidates, Kurtz-Phelan shelled out almost $15,000 to Democrat candidates in recent years, Trey Rogers was Gov. Ritter’s chief legal counsel, former Colorado Supreme Court justice (and current full-time activist) Jean Dubfsky contributed over $16,000 to Democrats, and of course Democrat Party attorney Mark Grueskin contributed over $12,000 cash and countless hours of “pro bono” and paid legal work to the Democrat Party, candidates, and causes.
Yet we are supposed to believe that this group’s efforts are oriented towards nonpartisan “public education” about the courts and the “judicial retention process”?
The Judiciary Project won’t directly advocate for voters to retain the four justices. Instead, it will educate voters about Colorado’s judicial-retention process, which includes lengthy judge performance evaluations, Kaplan said. Local performance commissions only rarely recommend a judge not be retained.
Puh-LEEZ! What a bunch of mullarkey! Surely they don’t think that Colorado voters are THAT stupid?
As noted by the judicial watchdog and accountability group KnowYourCourts:
The judicial retention “process” is quite simple: those incumbent justices wishing to remain declare their intention to do so; the question of whether or not they keep their jobs appears on the ballot in the form of a question: “Should Justice [name] be retained in office?” ( Yes/NO ) Colorado voters, based on available information and their best judgement as citizens, decide and vote accordingly, exercising their rights as citizens to do so. What part of the “process” is unclear?
What HAS been lacking, in all previous retention elections, is a source of substantive information (including commentary, evaluations, and even analysis and the full text of significant cases) on which to base an informed decision – a deficit now filled to a large extent by Clear The Bench Colorado.
Grueskin’s claim that his group was not formed in response to the growing momentum and awareness generated by the judicial accountability organization Clear The Bench Colorado (Grueskin characterized the assertion as “self-aggrandizing” and “ego-driven” – sure, attack the messenger, not the message) was also exposed as a rather less than honest statement (“baldfaced lie” is perhaps a bit harsh) by a message he sent out (leaked to our sources) back in February when “brainstorming” on what to do:
You may have read about the so-called “Clear the Bench” effort, a campaign for the non-retention of Justices Mary Mullarkey, Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, and Nancy Rice at the 2010 election. The Denver Post wrote about it recently. See www.tinyurl.com/ClearTheBench.
(Grueskin’s attempt to spin the facts after being caught red-handed, along with the entire text of the message – and our response, calling him on it – is ably chronicled in a mid-May Westword article, “Mark Grueskin, Matt Arnold tangle over judge retention: Should they stay or should they go?“)
Unfortunately – and in marked contrast to the highly transparent and publicly accountable grassroots organization Clear The Bench Colorado, which operates under the disclosure requirements of Colorado campaign finance law, providing transparency of funding and expenditures – the 501(c)4 organization formed by this cabal of activist Democrat lawyers does NOT have to disclose sources of funding to the public. They are completely unaccountable to Colorado citizens:
The Colorado Judiciary Project is organized as a 501c4, which covers civic leagues, social welfare organizations and local employee associations.
“Civic leagues” and “social welfare organizations?” Well, perhaps “local employee associations” is appropriate, since this group will be looking out for their buddies on the bench (before whom many, including Grueskin, frequently argue cases). Perhaps – perhaps – there is no formal quid pro quo, but there would certainly appear to be, at the very least, a perception of possible corruption. A strong case could be made that each of the attorneys involved in the group should be excused from arguing any case before the Colorado Supreme Court justices they are seeking to defend, in order to dispel any such perception of undue influence.
What IS abundantly clear is that this new group will collect and spend exorbitant amounts of money in an attempt to “educate” the public that “all is well” with the Colorado Judiciary, when the evidence to the contrary is abundantly clear:
Be an informed citizen – exercise your right to vote “NO” this November on the four ‘unjust justices’ of the Colorado Supreme Court’s “Mullarkey Majority”- (Justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice, and Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey) who need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax increases, your right to defend your home or business against seizure via eminent domain abuse, your right to be fairly represented in the legislature and Congress, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering under rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off! ) and your contributions – and vote “NO” on giving these unjust justices another 10-year term!