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TCL > July 1999 Issue > Letter to Colorado Bar Association Members

July 1999       Vol. 28, No. 7       Page  25

Letter to Colorado Bar Association Members
by Ben S. Aisenberg

Dear CBA Members:

Some very exciting news for you—the Colorado legislature has appropriated funds for legal services for victims of family violence. On June 2, Governor Bill Owens signed House Bill 1115, "Concerning Domestic Violence," sponsored by Representative Bill Kaufman and Senators Dottie Wham and Ed Perlmutter.  tcl-1999july-owens

Governor Bill Owens signs H.B. 1115, "Concerning Domestic Violence," into law as Senetor Dottie Wham, Miles Cortez, Ben Aisenberg, and Senetor Ed Perlmutter; among others look on.

The new law, which originally was sponsored by the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence ("CCADV"), extends the voluntary contribution tax check-off for the Colorado Domestic Abuse Program for seven more years.

The new law also establishes the "Family Violence Justice Fund." This is the good news for legal services! Money from this fund is to be distributed to qualifying organizations that provide legal advice, representation, and advocacy for and on behalf of indigent clients who are victims of family violence. These may include: representation in any restraining order proceeding; action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of marriage; paternity action; child custody action; proceeding to establish or enforce child support; administrative hearings; or any other judicial actions in which family violence is an issue or in which legal representation is necessary to protect the interests of a victim of family violence. The initial appropriation of $250,000 takes effect on July 1, 1999, and will grow to $400,000 on July 1, 2000. What a tremendous first step in our efforts to achieve funding for these projects!

History: Phil Figa was at the helm when we began our efforts to secure state funding for legal services. Miles Cortez took up the cause, and we narrowed our request to provide funding for programs that helped victims of family violence. Miles appointed Dale Harris as the chair of a new Family Violence Task Force; this led to the creation of Kathleen Schoen's position as Director of the CBA's Family Violence Project. Rebecca Koppes Conway made this her top priority.

We were unsuccessful in obtaining funding until this year. Just when we were in the process of regrouping, an opportunity surfaced in the form of HB 99-1115, a bill "Concerning Domestic Violence." Under the guidance of Senator Perlmutter, Senator Wham, and Representative Kaufman, the legal services amendment for family violence victims was attached to the bill.

Our special thanks go to the wonderful people at CCADV and, especially, Fofi Mendez (who represents CCADV at the state capitol) for allowing us to climb aboard their train as it was just about to pull into the station.

In a year when term limits dramatically changed the face of the legislature and a new governor resides on the first floor of the capitol, a breakthrough in the battle against family violence has been achieved. The list of people to thank would probably take more space that I have been allotted, but without the efforts of many of our members, this could never have happened.

Thank you.

Ben Aisenberg,
Colorado Bar Association President

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