Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, submitted their recommendations for appointments to a federal judgeship in Colorado, as well as for the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshall’s offices.
For the open seat on the U.S. District Court, the senators recommended Regina Rodriguez, who is currently co-chair of WilmerHale’s Trial Practice. Rodriguez was previously nominated for the position by former President Barrack Obama in 2016. At the time, Bennet said in a statement that she “will bring her impressive background in both public and private sectors to the federal bench.”
For the U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado, the senators recommended Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson, assistant U.S. attorney Hetal Doshi, and Hogan Lovells regional managing partner for the Americas Cole Finegan. Former Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck shareholder Jason Dunn has served as U.S. attorney since 2018. It is customary for the top federal prosecutors around the country to resign when a new president takes office.
“We believe that this diverse group of attorneys and law enforcement officials represent some of the most thoughtful, dynamic, and hardworking leaders in our state,” the letter states. “We’re confident that they’ll serve the people of Colorado with humility and integrity.”
U.S District Court for Colorado
Rodriguez was the only recommendation for the judgeship submitted to President Joe Biden. Bennet and Hickenlooper’s letter to Biden describes Rodriguez as “one of Colorado’s top attorneys with deep experience in both the public and private sectors.”
Before entering private practice, Rodriguez served as the chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado. She currently serves on multiple legal service committees, including the Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission and the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Law Enforcement Reform & Racial Justice Committee.
Rodriguez has more than 30 years of experience and has tried more than 30 cases as lead trial counsel in complex litigation, according to the WilmerHale website. Her past experience includes time in the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for the Department of Justice under former Attorney General Janet Reno and as deputy senior counsel for alternative dispute resolution.
Rodriguez has previously been named as Law Week‘s Barrister’s Best People’s Choice for Overall Litigator, and as a Top Latino Lawyer in 2016 and from 2018–2020 by Latino Leaders Magazine. The HNBA also named her the Latina Lawyer of the Year in 2013.
“We’re confident that she’ll make an outstanding contribution to the U.S. district court,” the letter states.
Bronson has served as Denver city attorney since 2016 and advises the mayor, City Council, all city departments and agencies while managing a department of more than 240 staff, 125 of which are lawyers, in three locations with a budget over $35 million, according to the letter. In addition to her city attorney work, Bronson serves as the Chair of the City of Denver’s Youth Violence Prevention Action Table. She’s been awarded by the Metro City Attorneys Association as an Outstanding City Attorney.
Doshi, has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 2014, and during that time, served on former President Barrack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, where she led investigations into asset-backed securities offerings coming from the global financial crisis in 2008. She serves on the Procurement Collusion Strike Force and in the Economic Crimes Section. She has also served as president of the South Asian Bar Association of Colorado, is president-elect of the Faculty of Federal Advocates and serves on the board of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association. She has received awards for her work, including the Center for Legal Inclusiveness’ [email protected] award.
Finegan, the only attorney of the three currently in private practice, specializes in administrative and municipal law, energy, real estate and government contracts. He is the managing partner of Hogan Lovells’ Denver office and, as a regional managing partner, manages roughly 1,000 lawyers and staff in 11 offices. According to the letter, one-third of his legal career was in public service, including acting as the chief of staff for the Denver mayor and city attorney simultaneously, and serving as the chief legal officer and the director of policy and initiatives for former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer. His work on boards ranges from the I Have a Dream Foundation and the creation of Denver’s Family Justice Center. He’s won multiple awards including Colorado Super Lawyer and Law Week Colorado’s Lawyer of the Decade.
Currently, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado is Jason Dunn, who has been at the helm since 2018, when he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, according to the DOJ website.
The Colorado office has a staff of over 190 people, and Dunn serves on the U.S. attorney general’s advisory subcommittees for cybercrime and intellectual property, terrorism and national security, marijuana and Native American Issues. He served as the deputy attorney general and assistant solicitor general for the State of Colorado.
Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Dunn practiced private law in regulatory, internal investigations, campaign finance and public law. In his time as U.S. attorney, Dunn has prosecuted cases involving a plot to blow up a Pueblo synagogue, the 2015 Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting, a police officer’s sexual assault case, a judge obstructing an investigation into a drug trafficking organization and a church seeking the ability to assemble in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a 2019 interview, Dunn told Law Week, that “I understand fully that I am just a steward of the office for a relatively short period of time, and my job primarily is to leave the office better than I found it.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not return a request for comment on Dunn’s future involvement with the office.”
U.S. Marshal’s OfficeThree candidates were recommended by the senators for the U.S. Marshal’s Office for the District of Colorado: Cassidee Carlson, internal affairs deputy commander of the Aurora Police Department; Sean Smith, La Plata County Sheriff; and Kirk Taylor, Pueblo County Sheriff.
Carlson has served with the APD since 2003. She has previously held the titles of Sector Lieutenant, Patrol Watch Commander, Crimes Against Children Sergeant, Internet Crimes Against Children Sergeant and Public Information Officer. Last year, the Department of Justice awarded Carlson the Meritorious Service Ribbon for leading an investigation into a missing child case, eventually revealed to be a homicide by the parents, and her role in a hostage rescue situation. She also received the 2019 Guardian of the Year Award from Special Olympics Colorado.
Smith, who has served as La Plata County Sheriff since 2015, has coordinated law enforcement operations and evacuations in response to fires that have burned in southwest Colorado over the past several years. He helped lead the local response to the Gold King mine disaster and previously worked as a deputy and in other law enforcement roles across the country and state. He was also appointed to the Colorado Pre-Trial Services Task Force of the Colorado Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission. He is also a former U.S. Army noncommissioned officer. He currently oversees 135 employees and 64 volunteers.
Taylor, who’s served as Pueblo County Sheriff since 2007, worked to implement a compliance auditing process within his office and open an emergency operations center. He holds a J.D. from the University of Colorado and has led bail reform efforts at local and state levels and has led his department throughout natural disasters. Before becoming sheriff, he was an investigator in the Pueblo District Attorney’s Office, a patrolman in the Alamosa Police Department and served in the U.S. Navy. He oversees an office with over 375 personnel.
— Avery Martinez