Denver Bar Association
November 2005
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Reflections on the Judicial System

by Justice Greg Hobbs

DBA President Chris Little has decided not to write columns each month. Rather, he believes it is important to recognize the talent and dedication we have in the courts in Colorado. Budget cuts and the lack of funding is alarming, but lawyers must not forget that our judiciary is talented. A great jurist can help us learn by reminding us simply to think.

Justice Greg Hobbs
What I like best about being a Supreme Court Justice is seeing Coloradans play out their book of days. I gaze from my desk overlooking Civic Center Park to the west through the downtown core out to the Great Divide. 

Some days, the Indian Peaks are hung in clouds.

Other days are so cloudless and brilliant!

I think about the Native Americans who camped at the confluence of Platte and Cherry Creek along the sweep of the Rockies where prairie meets red-rocked hogback and where, farther up, Pike’s Peak, Mount Evans, and Longs Peak anchor the source of oceans.

I think about Ferdinand Hayden in the summer seasons of the early 1870s, mapping from baseline on the prairie a thousand peaks — each of them climbed on foot — to get the triangulation of Colorado, Mother of Rivers, sighted through an eyepiece that jangles on a tripod sounding a warning: Impending Lightning Strike!

I think about the axis of the gold-leafed capitol dome circled by legislators, lobbyists, and citizen witnesses congregating through access steps past the governor’s office into deliberating rooms and chambers.

I think about the curve of the City and County Building — how it holds the tripartite counterweight to the state as mayor, city council and local courts hold forth their part of the bargain, and citizens file in for jury duty. 

I think about the press fixing its eyes on us straight across a canopy of green or, over-wintering, through bare limbs of ingathered cores that mark for future historians to count, through drought and growth, rings of Colorado history that circle upon one another.

I think about the privilege of reading and writing and deliberating about the business of this
magnificent land and its people. Always the watersheds play out, a piece at a time, through conflict, settlement or decided-resolution, the book of days citizens bind together.

I think about arguments made, and answers given, always building on each other from the earliest days of Colorado territory stored in strings of reporter-books that line my chambers. And how, by the magic of tapping keys, other jurisdictions flash their experiences upon a screen of imprint images, bearing messages that may bear upon our precedents, unfolding.

I think about the waves of stapled blue paper carried into my chambers on a Thursday afternoon — the proposed opinions of my six colleagues for next week’s decisional conference. And why I must anchor myself to the task of reading carefully, making suggestions, and lending my voice to the principled hard work of stating in writing the lay of the land mapped by judicial cartography a piece at a time.

I think about the trips I get to make into so many Colorado communities as will invite me to their midst to speak and hear about their doings. And answer questions that do not involve pending cases I might be called upon to view and vote upon.

I think about the stitching of law and history a good opinion takes as it makes its way into the stream of all the contributions Coloradans make each day going about their work and play. I think about crimes and torts and contracts and insurance — aquifers, seeps, creeks, and rivers — snowstorms that feed states-person ship. 

Then I begin writing.

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