- Sole Practitioner
I am a trial and appellate specialist handling criminal and personal injury cases. I graduated from the University of Denver and the University of Colorado Law School with honors including Phi Beta Kappa, Order of the Coif, and Law Review. I have successfully argued cases all over the state and in the United States Supreme Court, including such high-profile cases as the United Bank and Kathy Denson murder trial and the Jeffery Truax shooting lawsuit. I am the legal analyst for 9 News and KOA, I wrote legal columns for the Rocky Mountain News, and occasionally write for the Denver Post as well as providing legal commentary for the BBC, NBC, Court TV, and innumerable other media outlets.
MY PRACTICE AREAS AND EXPERIENCE
I accept criminal defense cases, both trials and appeals, together with personal injury and wrongful death claims. I have extensive trial experience, dating back to 1977, having tried dozens of cases to successful conclusion, and have been involved in appeals work since 1975. I have tried cases all over Colorado, with an emphasis on the Front Range, and have enjoyed unmatched success in both my criminal and civil cases, winning all but a handful of my trials and appeals. I begin every trial fully prepared and expecting to win, and do everything within my power to ensure that my client comes out on the winning side.
In my role as a criminal defense attorney at trial, I have successfully tried everything from DUI to First Degree Murder, losing only one homicide trial in my entire career. As an appeals lawyer, I have won countless cases and established significant legal precedents in the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Colorado Supreme Court, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in the United States Supreme Court.
As a civil litigator, I have obtained record verdicts at one time or another in numerous courts, and have brought badly-needed and deserved compensation to the injured and bereaved from all walks of life. To be sure, the verdicts in some of my cases have become front-page news, but I am equally proud of the far more numerous less publicly-known trials I have won for my clients. I have been selected for inclusion in the peer-review publication, The Best Lawyers in America for my work representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
I seek to obtain the very best outcome for every client, civil or criminal. Sometimes that is attained through a trial, and sometimes through a favorable plea agreement or settlement. I have successfully obtained acquittal after acquittal in the criminal arena, and have achieved huge verdicts for my clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases, some of which have be the subject of coverage by national publications and networks, such as Time magazine, Court TV, and The Lifetime Channel.
Not every case needs to go to trial; indeed, very few need to. Still, prosecutors, insurance adjustors, and defense attorneys know how capable a trial advocate I am, and almost always offer my clients substantial inducements to avoid going to trial against me. As a consequence, I have gotten dozens and dozens of criminal cases dismissed, and have tried and settled a number of civil cases for over $1,000,000. All that really matters to me, however, is that my clients emerge from their cases with the best possible outcome.
A former law partner of mine once paid me the ultimate compliment, calling me the complete lawyer because of my skills and legal acumen during all stages of litigation. From the initial Complaint or motion through verdict or settlement, I have the ability to do it all, and then do it all, for each of my clients. I am both a trial and appeals expert, capably researching, writing and arguing every issue in every one of my cases. My knowledge of both trial and appellate practice and procedure enables me to excel at all aspects of the legal work for I do for my clients, as I have done throughout my career.
MY ROLE AS MEDIA LEGAL ANALYST
I also serve as a Legal Analyst and Commentator to the news media. Beginning with the O.J. Simpson case in 1994, I have provided legal analysis in high profile cases on a regular basis to television networks, radio stations, newspapers and magazines all over the world. I have proudly served as the official legal analyst for 9News KUSA and 850 KOA Radio in Denver since 1997, and began writing a legal column for The Rocky Mountain News at about that same time. Over the past 15 years, at one time or another, I have acted as a legal analyst for all of the national networks, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News, as well as countless news organizations across the globe, from the BBC in the United Kingdom to the Beijing Daily News in China.
While my media work requires but a few hours of work each month, it is important both to me and to my clients. It fulfills every attorney's ethical duty to help educate and inform the public about legal matters. And, while the vast majority of the people I represent are fortunate enough not to be in the public eye, I am obviously media-savvy, and know how to handle high-profile cases when they do come my way. Unlike some litigators, I do not actively seek out the high-profile trial, but I have the experience and media contacts to effectively help any client's cause in the appropriate situation when public comment is required.
My legal analyst duties ultimately benefit all of my clients. Because of the accuracy of my projections of the outcomes of high-profile trials and the application of common sense whenever I comment publicly on a case, I enjoy unparalleled credibility when I deal with prosecutors in criminal cases and adverse counsel and insurance adjustors in civil matters. Moreover, I have learned that a surprising number of jurors trust what I have to say and offer during trials because they are familiar with me from TV or from my legal columns, which obviously benefits my clients in a direct manner.
PHILOSOPHY, POLICIES, AND PRACTICES
Initial Consultation and Retention
The initial consultation, which is usually done by telephone, is without cost to the prospective client. Occasionally the courtesy of a free consultation is extended to an office interview when that is appropriate, but I recognize that not only is my time important, so is that of the potential client, so I ordinarily agree or decline to consider a case during the first telephone call, and use the ensuing office meeting as a retention session. In criminal cases, I attempt to quote the retainer fee during the initial phone call, so that the potential client will know what is required; with civil matters, almost all of the personal injury and wrongful death cases I take are done on a contingent fee, so instead I either commit to take on the case or decline representation during that first telephone conversation.
During the retention meeting, I will want to know everything necessary for full and capable representation. A written fee agreement will be used, so that the client can rest assured that the terms of the representation are fixed and will not be changed later. Finally, I will explain to the client what will happen at all stages of the case, what to expect and why. I want my clients to know what is coming to make them as comfortable as possible during what are always difficult times in their lives.
I will only accept a case presented to me if I know it is a matter I am both competent and able to undertake. Because I personally do all of the legal work done for every single one of my cases, I carefully limit the number of cases I take on. If my caseload was to become too large, the quality of my work could suffer, and I simply will not let that happen.
I have full confidence in my abilities, and I want each of my clients to likewise feel confident that that I have both the time and the effort that is needed to bring their cases to a successful conclusion. No client deserves less than that commitment from their lawyer.
I charge a substantial initial retainer in all criminal cases, whether in a trial court or on appeal. The amount of the retainer for cases at the trial court level is dependent on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the charges, the complexity of the case, the jurisdiction in which it is filed, and the criminal history of the accused. Appellate fees are based on the length of the trial and the nature of the issues to be raised on appeal.
In trial court cases, often the initial retainer is the entire fee for representation through trial; almost always, the retainer is the full fee charged if the case does not go to trial. In appeals cases, the retainer is invariably the entire fee charged, for complete appellate representation through the Colorado supreme Court if necessary. I am a very capable and compassionate advocate for my clients, but am uncomfortable being a creditor. I want all client communications to be about how best to proceed with the case, rather than about fees, so I attempt to fashion the initial retainer so that I will not have to ask for additional fees during the pendency of the case.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases
These cases are almost invariably accepted on a contingent fee basis. The client need not pay anything to hire me. I ordinarily charge a straight 1/3 contingency, taken from the net proceeds at the conclusion of the case; in other words, the 1/3 is calculated after the costs of litigation, medical expenses, and subrogation interests have all been deducted from the judgment or settlement. Although many lawyers charge a higher percentage or take their fees from the gross recovery, I do not feel that is appropriate, as it results in the lawyer receiving too much out of the case, and the client far too little.
Client Relations and My Staff
First and foremost, I believe that when a client hires me to handle their case, they are entitled to my personal attention and representation. I handle all aspects of each client's case personally and individually. I do not delegate any portion of the lawyer's work to another. The way I look at it, the client hired me to represent them, not a law clerk or green associate. As a consequence, my clients know that from the very first, I will be the sole attorney working on the case. No client of mine will be ever be shoved aside to a younger, less experienced and qualified lawyer.
Clients are entitled to courtesy and dedication, and they receive both from me and from my staff. Assisting me as my Legal Assistant and Paralegal for over 30 years is Mary Lou Gravell. While at times I have also employed additional personnel to assist with paralegal and receptionist duties, Mary Lou and I are a constant that our clients can rely on. Telephone calls are returned in timely fashion; all case deadlines are met; and copies of all significant documents are sent to clients without the necessity of a special request.
Clients have the right to expect preparedness and timeliness for all court appearances. Judges demand no less. Accordingly, I am invariably early and fully prepared for all court appearances. In some jurisdictions, arriving at court right at the time that a hearing is set is a major mistake; hours of wasted time will be spent waiting for the case to be heard, when coming to court just a little bit early will save both the attorney and the client valuable time. And once the case is called, prosecutors and judges alike are always impressed with my presentation and preparedness. I expect nothing less than complete professionalism from myself, and neither should my clients.
After the Case Is Over
I remain your lawyer even after the case for which I was hired has been successfully concluded. Frequently I hear from clients from 20 or 30 years ago, and I am always willing to try to help a prior client with legal questions or guidance. Your confidences will always be secure with me, and I will continue to try to help anyone who has done me the honor of trusting me with their representation in the past.
Areas Of Practice
- Criminal Defense -- State and Federal
- White Collar Crimes
- Personal Injury -- Plaintiff
- Motor Vehicle Accidents -- Plaintiff
- Wrongful Death
- Colorado, 1975
- U.S. District Court District of Colorado, 1977
- U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, 1977
- U.S. Supreme Court, 1982
- University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder, Colorado
- J.D. - 1975
- Honors: Order of the Coif
- Honors: With Honors
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
- University of Denver, Denver, Colorado
- B.A. - 1972
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
- Honors: Pi Gamma Mu
- Major: History
- "'Rules v. Approaches': Choosing a Choice-of Law Principle for Colorado", University of Colorado Law Review, Volume 46 No. 1
- "Strategies in Defending Eyewitness Identification Cases", Colorado Lawyer, February, 1988
- "Eyewitness Identification; Suggestive Procedures in the Wake of Wade", Trial Talk, May, 1991
- People v. Zukowski, 260 P.3d 339, 2010, Colo. App.
- Espinoza v. O'Dell, 633 P.2d 455, 1981, Colo., 1981120341
- People v. Riley, 708 P.2d 1359, 1985, Colo., 1985156370
- People v. Briggs, 709 P.2d 911, 1985, Colo.
- Neil v. Espinoza, 747 P.2d 1257, 1987, Colo., 1987155104
- United States v. Gillis, 942 F.2d 707, 1991, 10th Cir.
- White v. Adamek, 907 P.2d 735, 1995, Colo. App.
- People v. Janes, 982 P.2d 300, 1999, Colo.
- Heavyweight Boxer Ron Lyle
- Former Green Beret Eugene Tafoya
- Iranian Student Afshin Shariati
- Income Realty mogul William Riley
- Ex-Denver Police Officer James King
- Eagle Rancher Kathy Denson
- The Estate of Jeffery Truax
Honors and Awards
- The Best Lawyers in America
- 5280 Magazine Colorado Super Lawyer
- Top AV 5.0 Rating Martindale-Hubbell Rating
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Association for Justice (ATLA)
- Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
- Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
- Denver Bar Association
- Colorado Bar Association
Past Employment Positions
- Hon. Charles D. Pierce, Colorado Court of Appeals, Law Clerk, 1975 to 1977
- Gerash, Robinson, and Miranda, P.C., Lawyer and Partner, 1977 to 1996
Pro Bono Activities
- LawLine 9, 1998
- Legal Analyst, 9News KUSA Denver
- Legal Analyst, ABC
- Legal Analyst, BBC
- Legal Analyst, CBC
- Legal Analyst, CBS
- Legal Analyst, CNN
- Legal Analyst, Court TV
- Legal Analyst, The Denver Post
- Legal Analyst, Fox News
- Legal Analyst, KOA Radio-Denver
- Legal Analyst, NBC
- Legal Analyst, The New York Times
- Legal Analyst, People Magazine
- Legal Columnist, The Rocky Mountain News
- Legal Columnist, The Denver Post