Coats to be Next Supreme Court Chief Justice

Justice will take over the role upon Chief Justice Nancy Rice’s retirement June 30

The Colorado Supreme Court announced Thursday that Justice Nathan Coats will be the court’s next chief justice. The court’s associate justices selected Coats to head the court effective June 30, upon the retirement of Chief Justice Nancy Rice.

Rice announced her retirement in March 2018. She has served a 31-year career as a judge, including nearly 20 years on the state’s highest court and four-and-a-half-years as chief justice.

“I am pleased and honored my colleagues have entrusted me with this very important role serving the judiciary and Colorado,” Coats said. “I look forward to continuing to support the initiatives and programs Chief Justice Rice has successfully implemented and to bring forth new projects that will keep Colorado’s judiciary responsive to the state’s needs.”

Coats was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court on April 24, 2000. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he was the chief appellate deputy district attorney for the 2nd Judicial District (Denver County) from 1986 to 2000. 

He also served in the appellate section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in the 1970s and ’80s. Coats has served on numerous Colorado Supreme Court committees.

Coats received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado in 1971 and his law degree from the University of Colorado Law School in 1977. 

Coats is the 46th member of the court to be named chief justice since Colorado’s statehood in 1876.

The chief justice serves as the executive head of the Colorado judicial branch and is the ex-officio chair of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. 

The chief justice appoints the chief judge of the Court of Appeals and the chief judge of each of the state’s 22 judicial districts. 

Additionally, the chief justice is responsible for maintaining the judicial branch’s relationships with the executive and legislative branches and administering the budget for the judicial branch.

The Colorado judicial branch is the state’s largest unified criminal justice agency and includes the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals as well as the state’s district and county trial courts. The branch is also home to the Department of Probation Services, which employs more than 1,100 people including approximately 900 probation supervisors and officers. The department’s officers are responsible for supervising more than 80,000 adult and juvenile offenders.

With probation, the judicial branch employs approximately 4,200 employees, including 417 justices, judges and magistrates. Last fiscal year, 777,000 cases of all types were heard in the state court system.

Firm Promotions

Geoffrey Bracken on Tuesday was named Denver office managing partner of recently formed Foley Gardere.

Bracken is a litigation partner whose practice focuses on commercial, construction, copyright infringement, wrongful death and personal injury disputes. 

He has represented individuals and businesses in both personal injury and commercial litigation matters in trials, on appeals, and in arbitration proceedings.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

Lateral Watch

Scott Berdan, a securities and corporate finance attorney in Denver, has joined Polsinelli as a shareholder in the firm’s national securities and corporate finance practice.

Berdan focuses his transactional practice on negotiated purchase and sales agreements, public and private equity and debt securities offerings and leveraged buyouts. 

He regularly counsels clients regarding their most significant corporate events, including issuers in connection with their initial public offerings and follow-on offerings of equity securities, institutional high-yield and convertible debt financings, senior secured credit facilities, going private and going dark transactions, and tender offers and consent solicitations.

Berdan earned a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University. Berdan has been a frequent author and presenter for CBA-CLE.

Shapiro Bieging Barber Otteson announced Tuesday that attorney Garth Gersten joined the Denver-based law firm.

In his insurance coverage practice, Gersten represents and advises policyholders in disputes with insurers. He litigates coverage and bad faith claims pertaining to construction defects, pollution, intellectual property claims, business interruption claims, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, fire and storm losses and workers compensation insurance disputes.

Gersten is also experienced in resolving disputes as a trained mediator. Gersten previously practiced in North Carolina, where he represented insurers and policyholders and was a frequent presenter at insurance coverage seminars. 

He was chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the North Carolina Captive Insurance Association. Prior to that, he practiced in California where he represented major insurers.

Gersten is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Good For You

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani partner Thomas Quinn has become a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The induction ceremony at which Quinn became a fellow took place recently before an audience of 700 during the recent induction ceremony at the 2018 Spring Meeting of the College in Phoenix. 

Quinn is a senior partner at Gordon Rees and has been practicing in Denver for 30 years. Quinn has experience in health care matters, fraud and abuse, government claims, regulatory disputes, product defect, deceptive trade, defamation, professional negligence and energy disputes. 

He has served as a speaker to members of the bench and bar on trial strategies, jury selection, government investigation response and ethics. 

Quinn has also addressed trade groups on entity organization concepts, governmental compliance and litigation response and management. He is an alumnus of the University of Wyoming Law School.

Fellowship in the college is extended by invitation only and only after investigation, to experienced trial lawyers of diverse backgrounds, “who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality.” Lawyers must have a minimum of 15 years trial experience before they can be considered for fellowship. 

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