Jackson Settles Into New Role on County Court
by Dennis Walker
had the pleasure of trying a case in front of Gary Jackson when he served on a Supreme Court board charged with the task of considering the contested admission of a lawyer. We worked through troublesome issues about the lawyer’s expected suitability for the practice of law. A unique due process question arose about prior misdemeanor sentencing conditions for the law school graduate in that protracted case.
Jackson’s questions while volunteering his time serving on that panel demonstrated great insight. His work showed a keen sense for resolving the difficult balance between the rights of a lawyer seeking admission and the protection of people whom lawyers must serve.
It was a preview of the thoughtful approach he would take from his practice and volunteer work to his role as a Denver County judge. Jackson was sworn in and took the bench in January.
I first became acquainted with Jackson when he was working as a partner in a prominent firm in Cherry Creek, after his work as a deputy district attorney in Denver and his service as an assistant U.S. attorney. Our common denominator was his history in the Denver D.A.’s Office with one of my partners, Jack Rotole. In the early 1970s, they became friends while living in the same apartment complex in Capitol Hill. At that time Jackson drove a muscle car and sported a prominent Afro.
In private practice, Gary did not limit himself to the defense of criminal matters. He represented individuals and businesses. He handled complex negligence and commercial matters. He also advocated for many people in their civil rights claims.
A couple years later, I enjoyed a few lunches with Jackson at M&D’s Barbeque. We discovered that Jackson’s regular racquetball partner was one of my officemates.
Jackson broadened his practice and assisted families, juveniles, students, and athletes in their challenging cases. He worked for years in the litigation of professional liability matters. He helped many lawyers confront professional responsibility issues. Colleagues have turned to Jackson for skilled representation for their difficult personal circumstances. He also took on battles for lawyers seeking readmission after a period of suspension.
His diverse experience should serve Denver well. For instance, he has had the rare opportunity of both prosecuting and defending people charged with first-degree murder.
Jackson is known for his sense of humor, compassion, and intelligence, but when I recently met with him, I began to appreciate his passion for mentoring lawyers and young people. He knows the importance of such relationships. He counts Judges Irv Ettenberg, Gregory Mueller, Zita Weinshienk, and James Flannigan among his early influences in becoming a trial lawyer and a professional. He too has paid it forward to others in the profession. Jackson recently worked with Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender and former Gov. Bill Ritter in conducting day-long seminars for Colorado bar leadership. His former mentees are leaders in the bar and on the bench.
Earl Wylder, a trial lawyer and basketball aficionado who has known Jackson for many years, shared one of his favorite stories about the new judge. He described with delight how Jackson, Judge Michael Mullins, and he took the entire East High School Angels Boys Basketball team to lunch at Strings. Sports hold vital connections for Jackson. Often, he can be seen at local high school basketball and football games enjoying the game and connecting with his community. I have heard that (like me) he grew about six inches while in college—that delay may have unfortunately hindered the chances for his talents in basketball to be noticed earlier. Whether in basketball or racquetball, he has always been a joyful competitor.
Jackson declared his ambition for the judicial challenge after 36 years in his firm. That meant giving up his long partnership with Michael DiManna and his presence in their office of more than 30 years in the beautiful building at 1741 High St.
He likely won’t miss time sheets and billing statements, but there is no doubt Jackson will miss his clients. He shared with me his emotions over the recent mutual closing of a file in a meeting with a client after seven years of friendly involvement with her and her family, working on the management of funds Jackson helped them recover for the wrongful death of her firefighter spouse.
We can safely assume that Jackson continues his dedication to serving people and helping sort out their problems. D
Dennis P. Walker is an attorney with Irwin & Boesen, PC. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.