Denver Bar Association
March 2013
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From the President: Overcoming Obstacles in Life and the Law

by Jim Benjamin

Jim Benjamin


his month, I have been thinking about the importance of perseverance. It is a quality that can be hard to attain, but I’ve seen it in action around the bar association — whether in those who rise above adversity or in an effort to further the rights of others. 

Franz Hardy Recognized with Richard Marden Davis Award

Each year, the Board of Directors of the Denver Bar Foundation makes the final selection, from among three deserving candidates selected by Davis Graham & Stubbs, of the recipient of the prestigious Richard Marden Davis Award.

The Davis Award is given to a lawyer practicing in Denver who, although being under the age of 40, has already demonstrated a combined excellence as a lawyer with civic and charitable activities best exemplifying the character and promise of Davis at that age.

The past recipients, such as the most recent three honorees — Stacy Carpenter, Mark Clouatre, and Monica Márquez — are all extraordinary individuals. During the several years I have had the honor in participating in the selection process, I have experienced two recurring reactions.

First, on learning of all the accomplishments and volunteer-related services performed by these candidates, I cannot believe they are still under the age of 40. It is just unfathomable that they have accomplished so much at this point in their young careers.

My other reaction is how difficult it is to make the final decision of who will be the recipient. The candidates are all so deserving. However, with that difficulty comes an immense pride in our Denver legal community, and each year I find myself remarking at how wonderful it is to have such great young talent in our profession.


Davis Award
Benjamin awards Franz Hardy with the Richard Marden Davis Award. Click here to see more photos from the event.

This year, the Davis Award was presented to Franz Hardy. Soon after meeting Hardy, his competency as a trial lawyer was evident, but his pathway to success is what is most astonishing. His parents met while his father was serving in the U.S. Army in Germany. Shortly after Hardy was born, his mother, who is Japanese, returned to Japan and he was raised by his single father. During his sophomore year at Colorado State University, his father unexpectedly passed away. As an only child, Hardy was on his own, but he graduated from CSU and put himself through law school at University of Colorado School of Law.

His leadership qualities have resulted in serving as head of the Diversity Committee of the national law firm Gordon & Rees, president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, member of the Board of Directors of the University of Colorado Law School Alumni Board, member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, and member of the Denver Bar Association nominating committee. And, if you didn’t pick up on it earlier, Franz is under 40 years old!

Congratulations to my dear friend, Franz Hardy.


Legislative PolicyCommittee Supports Civil Union Bill

A core principle of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations is to develop, promote, and support laws that provide equal protection and access to justice for all.

The CBA, through its Legislative Policy Committee, has agreed to support the civil union bill (Senate Bill 13-011), not as a social or morality statement but as one consistent with the precept that protection under the law and access to justice should be available to all. The time for creation of equal rights for same-sex couples is past due.

Rights — such as the ability to inherit by intestate succession, to be admitted into the hospital room of a partner, to include partners and children of the relationship on health insurance coverage, and to visit and to have custodial rights of children when the relationship ends — should all exist without need to create specific contractual agreements.

Each of these and other similar circumstances should be inherent, vested rights arising by law, not contract. Contracts are subject to mutual agreement. If one party refuses to agree or possesses superior bargaining strength, the other may be denied or severely limited to child visitation or custody, prohibited from sharing in distribution of jointly accumulated assets on dissolution of the relationship, or left without intestate succession rights.

By the time this message is printed, it is possible Colorado’s civil union bill already may have passed both houses of the General Assembly and been presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper for signature. If that process has not been concluded, it is time for individual bipartisan support from all members of the bar to assist in the formulation of law that will afford persons in lifelong relationships the legal right to protect ordinary aspects of life and ordinary indices of justice.D

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