Denver Bar Association
January 2000
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Did you know?

by David Erickson


History Bites

David Erickson is the CBA Historian and will share his findings with us as he discovers them. If you have any historical stories to share, send them to Historian, 1900 Grant Street, Ninth Floor, Denver, CO 80203

In 1954, the Colorado Bar Association strongly proposed the repeal of Colorado miscegenation laws, dating from 1883, that prohibited inter-racial marriages. The Bar said it would seek state legislative action in the coming session, to legalize marriages between all residents of the state and to completely overhaul other Colorado marriage, divorce and annulment laws.

John E. Gorsuch, a Denver attorney and chair of the committee that drafted the repeal, said the reasons were "obvious." They included:

  1. The "simple fact" that love does not recognize race, creed or color.

  2. There is a strong possibility that under recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court such ban is unconstitutional.

  3. In a not too well-defined portion of Colorado, acquired from Mexico, inter-racial marriages already are valid under state law.

At the first annual meeting of the Colorado Bar Association, in July 1898, the Committee on Grievances issued a written report to the members regarding attorney offenses. The report said that the "offenses charged are varied in character, the prevailing ones having to do with obtaining money by dishonest practices and refusing to account, or withholding money after the same has been lawfully obtained under the color of profession. False returns of service of process in divorce cases, in one case a forged decree of divorce, negligent management of cases and blackmailing proceedings, are included in the list of offenses."

The committee recommended the publication of a Code of Ethics previously adopted by the Alabama Bar Association. The Code, as published, was 10 pages in length and comprised 55 sections.

The Waterman Fund was created in the early 1960s through a $1.2 million bequest to the Denver Bar Association. The will of Anna Rankin Waterman stated that the bequest was:

"For the sole and only purpose of relieving the financial necessities, assuaging the hardships and lightening the financial burdens of aged, infirm or otherwise incapacitated members of the Colorado bar, in good repute and standing, and who shall have practiced law in Colorado for a period of at least 10 years prior to being a recipient of any of the benefits."

Anna was the widow of Charles W. Waterman, a well known Colorado lawyer who was general counsel for the Great Western Sugar Co. He and his wife were prominent in Denver social and civic activities. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1926 and died in 1932, shortly after completing his term.

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