FAMILY LAW SECTION EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING – MARCH 16, 2007
The meeting was called to order by the Chair at 10:10 am.
The following members and/or past chairs, attended in person: David Johnson, Marie Moses, David Littman, Denise Cook, Jordan Fox, Joan McWilliams, Rob Hinds, Richard Zuber, Fran Fontana, Martin Brown, Bob Malman, Steve Epstein, Martin Brown, Beth Henson, John Eckelberry, Ellen Squires, Terri Harrington, Joan McWilliams, Jackie St. Joan, Bonnie Schriner, Marc Kaplan, Kevin Sidel and Gina Weitzenkorn. Steve Epstein arrived at the latter part of the meeting. Jennifer Feingold from YLD attended as a guest. Meredith Cord, Bob Steenrod and Kim Willoughby also attended as guests.
Members present by telephone: Leslie Monahan, Russell Murray, Brenda Storey, Dick Rotole
These members had excused absences: Katie Hays, Deb Anderson, Kathryn Beck
Melissa Nicoletti was present from the CBA for part of the meeting.
Minutes from January 19, 2008 were approved with the amendment that the Douglas County Brown Bag is May 2nd and a correction of the spelling of Sarah Quinlan’s name.
CHAIR’S REPORT BY DAVE JOHNSON:
1. Barrister’s Ball- The deadlines were met with four FLS members [who had taken MVL cases during the past year] and guests and an additional two guests from Metro Volunteer Lawyers staff planning to attend the event
2. Brown Bag Lunches- All are scheduled except for Denver. David Littman will continue to work scheduling this event.
3. Nuggets- FLS broke even on event which was attended by 40 people.
4. Dave received a call from Teresa Spahn of OCR. She thought with new Governor that we should ask for a meeting with the Governor or one of his staff members to talk about the judicial appointment process. Teresa has sent a letter to the Governor’s legal counsel to request such a meeting and we hope to hear back soon.
5. Family Task Force – Lesleigh Monahan reported that first meeting was March 2, 2007. Co-Chairs are Steve McBride and Lesleigh Monahan. Judge Robert Russell, Mag. Elizabeth Leith, Judge Harlan Bockman, Judge Mick O’Hara, Melinda Taylor, Kathryn Beck, Fran Fontana, Beth Henson, Dick Rotole, Dave Johnson, Mac McShane from the mental health community, and Jeffrey Clayton and Alicia Davis from SCAO. The first year will involve gathering data and organizing it to make recommendations to the task force as to what they find. They will look at what is going on in Oregon, California and Florida and across the country. They will look at various models. The second year plan will be to look at the best practices and formulate recommendations. There will be quarterly meetings with subcommittee meetings more often. The “audience” for the recommendations is still not identified. It might be the judicial branch, the legislature, the Governor’s office, or all three.
There is a two day ABA conference in Baltimore in May on family courts. This is a follow up to the one held in 1998. Each state is sending a team appointed by chief justice of its supreme court of that state. This is a perfect opportunity for members of the task force to immerse themselves in what is going on. The conference is $400 per person. This would be waived if the chief justice nominates three people from the task force. Air fare is $200-220 right now to Baltimore and hotel is $179/night.
It was moved and seconded that FLS fund hotel and travel for Steve McBride, Lesleigh Monahan and Beth Henson up to $1000 per person (with conference fees to be added if needed) to attend the conference. The motion was approved unanimously.
VICE CHAIR’S REPORT – KATHRYN BECK:
1. Family Law Institute- Deferred to later in the meeting.
SECRETARY’S REPORT- DAVID LITTMAN
Nothing to report
TREASURER’S REPORT BY MARIE MOSES:
Marie asked Melissa why expenses for meals exceed income. Melissa believes that some of our meal income may have gone into another section’s account. An audit of the FLS account is being conducted by the CBA at Melissa’s request. For this month, the meal expenses are high due to the Nuggets game and judges reception. They are hoping that the April report will be correct. The report was approved.
IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR (FRAN FONTANA):
1. Judges Reception – Marie Moses suggested that we need to think of something else. Working with DU is close to impossible. DU was not helpful. Not a lot of section members showed up. There were five judges and a magistrate. We may wish to return to judges luncheons. There was consensus that the DU evening cocktail reception concept has run its course.
2. Ethics Committee on Collaborative Law- Dave Johnson reported on Ethics Opinion 115, which had been sent to the Council members earlier in the week. The Ethics Committee has determined that the current practice of the lawyers signing the collaborative law agreement violates Rule 1.7(b). The Collaborative Law Bar is in the process of changing how CL agreements are drafted and signed. Footnote 11 of the opinion makes it clear that if the parties wish to contract between themselves, they are free to do so, but the lawyers cannot be part of the agreement in which lawyers withdraw if CL fails. One of the biggest problems is the PR issues surrounding the opinion. Melissa reported that she spoke with Susan Bernhardt who is the incoming Ethics Committee Chair. Her suggestion is if there is a feeling that a new rule is needed, we can go directly to Supreme Court Rules Committee. Marcy Glenn is chair of that committee. We could approach them with a pre-drafted rule.
Richard Zuber suggested that legislation would be a cleaner way to assure coverage by malpractice carriers.
Martin Brown offered the opinion that collaborative law is unethical. Fran Fontana stated that this is not a Family Law Section issue. She noted that if a new rule or new legislation is proposed and brought to the FLS, then we will consider it as with other rules or legislation.
BY LAWS- Bonnie Schriner: Nothing to report.
ATTORNEY-MEDIATOR DIALOGUE: Terri Harrington reported that the event is scheduled to occur concurrent with the April FLS meeting date on April 20, 2007. The program and luncheon will be on the main floor in the Blue Sky Grill.
COLORADO LAWYER: Meredith Cord – discussed the specialty issue in October 2008 devoted to family law. There is a completed list of article titles.
FAMILY LAW INSTITUTE: Kathryn reported to Dave that 95% of speakers are lined up. Planning is coming along well. Gary Abrams has requested a contribution from FLS. We contributed $5000 last year. It was moved, seconded and approved to grant $5000. It was moved to spend up to $500 for a Saturday night reception. The motion was defeated.
LEGISLATIVE – Dick Rotole and Marie Moses - SB 15- Recodification of child support guidelines has been approved and is sitting on Governor’s desk. There was a bill introduced in house HB 1349- concerning child support obligations, assigned to Health and Human Services Committee- makes changes by redefining emancipation to include entering armed forces or is married.
SB 18 – clarification of expedited procedures for relinquishment has been passed and sent to Governor
SB 56 – DNA evidence of non-parentage: 70% of the Executive Council voted to oppose this legislation. This went before CBA’s Legislative Policy Committee- which controls positions taken by the CBA or its sections on legislation. The LPC voted to not permit the FLS to oppose this bill but to take no position. It has passed out of the Senate and is in appropriations.
HB 136 - Changes to protective orders hearings to allow courts to enter orders for rent and other financial issues. FLS voted to oppose. The mandate was to oppose legislation as originally drafted. They met with sponsor and DV coalition. They presented a bill that was not nearly as bad as original bill. For example, they fixed the part about paying child support for a child not that of a party. The bill has passed out of the Senate committee.
HB 1255 – Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act – allow a court to consider the probability that a party would abduct a child to another state or a foreign jurisdiction. It allows a law enforcement agency to take physical custody of a child if abduction is imminent. This has passed through House and was introduced in Senate Judiciary Committee. Dick reported that the committee thought it was appropriate legislation
HB 1330 – Adoptions – allows a child to be adopted by a specified by a second adult parent on consent of single parent. This is this year’s version of the same sex adoption bill from last year but does not focus on same sex couples. The committee thought this bill was ambiguous and did not limit to people who were cohabitating. The bill was not written to address same sex couples. Committee decided to take no action on it. This bill passed the house and is on its way to the Senate.
SB 150 – Trust bill – this is part of an effort to keep a uniform act out of Colorado. It doesn’t impact FLS much. It codifies In re marriage of Jones. It allows for child support obligations to be collection from trusts if there is a mandatory distribution provision. Bob Steenrod from the Trusts and Estates section reported on this bill. Elder law committee voted to support the bill. Probate/Trust law section is split right down the middle. It is through the Senate and going to the House Judiciary committee next week.
The Harris Law Firm still wants to focus on virtual visitation bill.
A party from Boulder, Jerry Greene, would like to move from judge to parental review boards for contested parenting issues. He contacted Melissa about what the FLS would think of such legislation. Melissa responded that he should contact his legislator and if a proposed bill is drafted then the FLS would be happy to meet with Mr. Greene and the legislator to offer comment.
MEMBERSHIP – John Eckelberry- has made contact with career development offices at DU and CU.
NEWSLETTER – Ellen is aiming for an April 15th release date. She likes the idea of taking articles that are too opinionated for Colorado Lawyer to use in the FLS newsletter. Dick will provide list of pending legislation.
NOMINATING COMMITTEE – Fran reported nominations have been received. Three of the candidates are from outside of the metro area. The nominating committee will meet by phone next week.
YOUNG LAWYERS – Jennifer Feingold – She and Sarah Quinlan have put together a one day CLE for young lawyers on how to try a case on June 8th.
NEW BUSINESS: Kim Willoughby came to speak on Common Law Marriage with Bob Steenrod. He is a member of Trusts and Estates Section. Kim is asking FLS to put together a subcommittee to look at common law issue to determine if we want to do away with common law marriage (as Judge Stewart has proposed) or keep it as it is. Dave suggested that if anyone wants to participate in sub-committee, they should contact Dave Johnson. Kim Willoughby, Richard Zuber, Jordan Fox, Martin Brown, and David Littman volunteered for this committee.
Melissa reported that Professionalism Committee will be looking for grant money to film vignettes. Attorney regulation may be seeking volunteers to go around the state.
AFCC Conference – Several years ago the Executive Council established a policy to send Chair elect and chair of legislative committee to AFCC conference. This year’s conference is in Washington, D.C. Bonnie estimated total costs were $1200 per attendee. It was approved that FLS spend up to $1500 per for Kathryn Beck and Dick Rotole to attend the AFCC conference.
A motion to adjourn was made and seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 11:48 a.m.