Remembering Jim Covino, 1946-2010
by Natalie Lucas
Attorneys Celebrate the Life of ‘Tireless Defender’
While some may remember Jim Covino as the lawyer in the wheelchair, many more will remember him as a champion for the less fortunate.
Although confined to a wheelchair since the age of 19, Covino never let a wheelchair confine his goals. After obtaining his law degree from the University of Denver in 1988, Covino worked in the public defender’s office and later served as a Denver District Court Magistrate.
Covino dedicated his career to the pursuit of justice for children and juveniles. He was a founding board member of the Colorado Office of the Child’s Representative. He served on the state’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council. As a private practitioner, he continued his commitment to assisting the criminally accused and abused and neglected children. In 2006, he was awarded the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Gideon Award, in recognition of his commitment to service of the indigent and to the community. He enjoyed mentoring younger lawyers and would often take them under his wing.
Outside the practice of law, Covino was known for his love of music, philosophical conversations, and good pie. He also was devoted to his family. When he passed away in April, he was survived by his wife and his daughter. More than 300 members of the Colorado Bar and the judiciary attended his memorial service. On Feb. 19, a celebration in remembrance of his life will be held at the Mercury Café. The proceeds will benefit a college fund for his daughter.
Boston Stanton, who attended law school with Covino, remembers when they both entered the race for class president their first year. Stanton and another classmate were elected co-presidents their first year, and Covino was elected president their second year. Law school politics did not hinder their friendship; they remained friends throughout the remainder of law school and their careers.
"Quite frankly, he was an inspiration," Stanton said. "His battle and his courage gave me strength."
Stanton added, "A quote that comes to mind when I think of Jim is: ‘It is not what you achieve, it is what you have to overcome to achieve.’"
Lisabeth Castle, who also went to law school with Covino and came up through the ranks of the public defender’s office with him, said, "He never let his disability stop him. He was well-respected by the District Attorney’s Office. He was a tireless defender, and he did it with dignity."
Skeet Johnson remembers Covino’s love for life. Covino and Johnson were fellow band members in Joe’s Garage. Covino served as the sound man for the band.
"You would often find him dancing in his wheelchair rather than at his station," Johnson said.
Johnson added, "He was a friend to many. He was dedicated to the defense of the indigent and juveniles. He was a zealous advocate for the representation of juveniles in the criminal arena."
The celebration will be held on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 7:45 p.m. at the Mercury Café, 2199 California St., in Denver. Phoenix Rising, an offshoot band of Joe’s Garage, will perform. Tickets are $20, available at the door or by contacting Natalie Frei at (303) 620-4999, ext. 1165. There will be a silent and live auction. The proceeds will benefit a college fund for Covino’s daughter. For updates and more information about this event, please visit Scri.be. D