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Tom RamstackTom RamstackJanuary 19, 20179min397

The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case last week of a Colorado woman who wants to reimbursed for the fines she paid before her felony convictions were overturned. If she wins when the Court’s decision is announced in the next couple of months, the ruling would invalidate a state law that requires exonerated convicts to prove they are "actually innocent" and not just "legally innocent" before they can be reimbursed. The woman, Shannon Nelson, argues the Colorado law violates the Due Process Clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.


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Mario NicolaisMario NicolaisOctober 28, 20165min309

Recently I went to the annual Colorado Judicial Institute’s Annual Award Dinner. Because CJI is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the merit selection system in Colorado, it invited a keynote speaker from a state where judges stand for election to share her experiences. In her sweet, southern accent, former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb captivated her audience for nearly an hour retelling stories from the campaign trail and envying Colorado’s system. Chief Justice Bell Cobb is a legal powerhouse who achieved notoriety as the only Democrat to win statewide elected office in ruby-red Alabama during the 2006 election. She also became the first woman to hold the highest office in Alabama’s legal system. Think of her as a kind of southern Ruth Bader Ginsburg — or, consequently, maybe as the “Notorious SBC.”


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Jared WrightJared WrightOctober 26, 20164min421

Recently there’s been a groundswell of support for legislation to right a four-decade wrong: a restriction using federal funds for women’s health care that has predominantly hurt the underprivileged. This ban, known as the Hyde Amendment, prohibits federal funds in Medicaid and other health programs from being used for abortions. Now the restriction stops this coverage for all federal employees, military personnel, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans on federal insurance and inmates in federal prisons.


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Mario NicolaisMario NicolaisApril 12, 20165min298

I wrote about Evenwel v. Abbott in my first column for the Statesman. At the time, the Supreme Court had just accepted the “one person, one vote” case. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court reiterated that “one person, one vote” continues to be a constitutional rule when applied to the redistricting processes used by states. The court decision itself is pretty unexceptional. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walked through the history of the rule, some prior decisions, the current application, and came to her conclusion affirming application of the rule. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote concurrences. All justices declined to wade into theoretical alternative rules. All pretty standard. What got reported in the aftermath is what seemed exceptional. And telling.