Grueskin & Westfall: Colorado’s top election attorneys
The Colorado Statesman
There was perhaps no greater rivalry in the history of sports than that of Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Los Angeles Lakers point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson. But it was more of a courtship between Magic and Bird — a “courtship of rivals,” as one documentary put it.
Johnson once said of his relationship with Bird, “When the new schedule would come out each year, I’d grab it and circle the Boston games. To me, it was the two and the other 80.”
Bird later said of Johnson, “The first thing I would do every morning was look at the box scores to see what Magic did. I didn’t care about anything else.”
In the Colorado political world, there may be no greater “courtship of rivals” than that of attorneys Mark Grueskin and Richard Westfall. And their relationship could be considered synonymous to that of Magic and Bird.
Grueskin, a Democratic attorney with Heizer Paul Grueskin, and Westfall, a Republican attorney with Hale Westfall, have faced off over the past 17 years in some of the most epic and controversial cases that have shaped the Colorado political landscape.
Most recently, the two represented opposing sides in a case challenging the validity of petition signatures gathered to oust Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo.
Grueskin argued for Democrats that the recall petition format did not include the proper language and therefore should be invalidated, while Westfall responded for Republicans, pointing out that proponents used the same petition template furnished by legions of elections administrators over the years.
Westfall won the case, sending Grueskin packing. But there were never any hard feelings between the two. In fact, throughout the hearing, both Grueskin and Westfall repeatedly made note to the judge of their utmost respect and admiration for one another. They just didn’t buy into each other’s arguments.
Attorneys Mark Grueskin, left, and Richard Westfall, right, are the ying and yang of election law in Colorado. They often face off in court — Grueskin usually represents Democrats and Westfall the Republicans. Both in and out of court, such as when they recently talked to The Statesman at our office, they share a mutual respect and are friends.
In 2011, the two competed again over redistricting, arguing before a Denver District Court judge and then the Colorado Supreme Court in a case that would carve out congressional districts and potentially tilt power one way or the other in favor of a particular political party. As political jurisprudence goes, redistricting is the big kahuna.
Grueskin came out the victor in that one, establishing four districts that can be described as competitive — up from two swing districts — leaving just three of the state’s seats clearly dominated by Republican or Democratic voters.
But no matter how controversial the case, and despite the divisive arguments, Grueskin and Westfall have remained loyal fans of each other. In fact — much like Magic and Bird — the highly competitive nature of their professional relationship has inspired them to be better attorneys.
“He’s an incredibly formidable advocate and a formidable adversary… I know when he’s on the other side even if it’s something that I think I have the winning argument on, Mark somehow always finds a way to come up with something,” Westfall told The Colorado Statesman last month. And Grueskin returned the compliment. “Look, if there’s a smarter lawyer in Colorado, I don’t know who he is.”
Grueskin and Westfall sat for a wide-ranging discussion with The Statesman on Aug. 14 just as the recall election was in full swing with a series of subsequent court challenges.
Sitting side-by-side on a couch in editor Jody Hope Strogoff’s office, the rivals laughed alongside each other, affectionately recalling stories from their legendary careers. The spirited conversation covered how they met and launched their careers, the ways in which they analyzed policy and law over time, differences in direction and tone as political parties evolved, opinions on the state of the judiciary, how they handled and prepared for landmark cases, and how improved technology has changed the way in which the political and legal worlds practice. The two attorneys joined Strogoff and political reporter Peter Marcus for an interview that lasted over an hour in the newspaper’s Capitol Hill offices.
Grueskin and Westfall keep a strictly professional relationship; they don’t socialize with one another. But their respect and admiration is obvious — also very similar to Magic and Bird.
They wouldn’t answer who in their opinions is Magic and who is Bird, so we’ll leave that up to you, our readers, to decide. Regardless of who is who, these fierce competitors have a lot to share.
The Statesman regularly conducts in-depth interviews with prominent political figures. Find transcripts of The Statesman’s interviews with dozens of Colorado politicos archived online at www.coloradostatesman.com/innerview.
Below is the transcript of The Statesman’s conversation with Grueskin and Westfall. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Richard Westfall is a partner at Hale Westfall, LLP, in Denver. He joined the firm after serving as Solicitor General for the State of Colorado. His practice includes appeals and litigation involving state and local government, public policy, constitutional law, election law, regulatory law, utility law, and Medicaid.
Westfall serves as General Counsel for the Colorado Republican Party as well as the Colorado Statewide Portal Authority. He is the chairman of Advocates for Younger Generations, co-chair of the Colorado Lawyers Committee’s Elections Task Force, and contributes to the Rocky Mountain Appellate Blog.
While working for Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton, Westfall sat on the Title Setting Board, chaired the National Association of Attorney General’s Federalism Working Group, and acted as liaison with the Governor’s office and the Colorado Supreme Court.
Westfall previously worked with Davis Graham & Stubbs in their Denver and Washington, D.C. offices. Prior to that, he clerked for Justice Byron White on the United States Supreme Court and Judge Robert H. McWilliams on the Tenth Circuit.
Westfall graduated from the University of Colorado in 1978 and received his JD from the University of Denver in 1985. He was named Best Lawyer, Appellate from 2006 - 2011 from Law Week Colorado, and was also chosen as a Colorado Super Lawyer from 2007-2011.
Mark Grueskin is a partner at Heizer Paul Grueskin, LLP, in Denver. He is equally involved in campaigns and elections, as well as regulatory law and governmental relations. He is particularly active in the initiative and referendum field, drafting ballot measures and challenging petitions and ballot titles. He advises clients about federal, state, and local campaign finance law and is a member of the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Advisory Panel.
Grueskin’s practice also addresses government accountability issues, including public sector ethics, open records and public meetings law, and lobbyist regulation. He has counseled the state’s limited gaming industry for 20 years and regularly assists companies with gaming and liquor licensing, compliance and enforcement actions, rule making and legislation.
Grueskin has been special counsel to myriad public entities including the State of Colorado, the Colorado General Assembly, and the City and County of Denver, and also as local counsel to the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee. He regularly adjudicates matters before the state’s administrative law judges and appellate courts, and frequently addresses other attorneys about non-profit law.
Before entering private practice in Colorado, he served as Legal Counsel to Governor Richard Lamm (1985-87) and served as the Governor’s deputy legislative director in 1983.
Grueskin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, and received his JD from American University School of Law in 1979. Campaign & Elections Magazine called Grueskin Colorado’s best election “lawyer, bar none” and his colleagues and the Denver Business Journal named him “Best of the Bar” in Elections, Campaign and Political Law in 2005. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America in the Gaming Law and Administrative Law fields for five consecutive years, and Law Week Colorado wrote that he won “the most important case of 2009” and named him Lawyer of the Year.
The Colorado Statesman: You are our state’s preeminent election attorneys and we thought it would be kind of fun to get you in a joint setting and ask you some questions. Can you tell us a little bit about your recollections of the first time you met, maybe in court?
Richard Westfall: We were on a Colorado Counties panel together in Colorado Springs.
Mark Grueskin: I’m impressed! Actually, you could be making this up, I don’t know.
Statesman: So when was this?
Westfall: I think I was still in the AG’s office and they needed somebody from the AG’s office to come down and participate as part of this panel and Mark was on the panel.
Grueskin: You know what, that was right after Amendment 15 passed, wasn’t that? [Editor’s Note: Colorado Amendment 15, also known as the Campaign Finance Act, was an initiated state statute on the Nov. 5, 1996 election ballot in Colorado, where it was approved.]
Westfall: It could have been. Now your memory’s better than mine. I just remember being in that funky little room at that funky little hotel on the south side of Colorado Springs.
Grueskin: Right, right. It would have been 1996, ‘97. Yeah, because of Colorado County’s connection — makes sense.
Westfall: So about 17 years ago.
Statesman: What was that meeting about?
Westfall: It was a convention by Colorado Counties, they had some program. And I think I argued there and that’s why I was… Wasn’t that the…?
Grueskin: It was at the…
Westfall: It was at the Scarlet Letter. Wasn’t Amendment 15 the Scarlet Letter?
Grueskin: First came campaign finance, that was a precursor to Amendment 28. [The Colorado Mail Ballot, Amendment 28 was on the November 2002 ballot in Colorado as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.]
Westfall: Oh, okay.
Grueskin: It was litigation and my firm was representing the plaintiffs.
Westfall: Yeah, okay.
Grueskin: I don’t know, were you at the AG’s office?
Westfall: I was at the AG’s office; that’s how I got invited.
Statesman: And who knew that would just be the beginning of this long storied relationship where you probably see each other representing different sides on a fairly frequent basis. It seems like there’s always something going on.
Westfall: Usually he’s causing it.
Grueskin: You know, I mean actually what happens is it goes in spurts and there are these intense periods of time.
Westfall: And then we just sort of see each other socially occasionally.
Grueskin: Exactly. We’ll see each other on the street or at a restaurant. But I mean the truth is neither Richard nor I look at lawyering as viewing the opposing lawyer as this absolute enemy. I mean we work together because we know that ultimately Richard’s not going to decide it; I’m not going to decide it, the judge is going to decide it and the judge would much rather have this thoughtful presentation if you can muster it, which we can, Richard can, without fail. So there’s no… I mean there are lawyers who look at every little issue between sides as an earth-ending battle.
Grueskin: And it is a recipe for failure, particularly I think in what we do.
Westfall: Yeah, it’s tiresome and it’s not constructive, I don’t think most of the judges that we appear before at all appreciate that, and at the end of the day it’s a small town, what goes around comes round. I mean I think it’s important — I think Mark and I share this view—it’s important that you treat the tribunal with respect and that you treat opposing counsel with respect.
Grueskin: And the truth is we’re exceedingly fortunate, the two of us, because we get to weigh in on these issues of policy or politics and that’s just kind of the starting point. And if you poison the well in either policy or politics, by what we do or in any other way, then you end up with a bad product. So neither one of us look at it as a game and we both of us are committed to our points of view and our clients, but neither one of us look at each other as some member of an enemy battalion.
When an election law issue erupts in Colorado, often times attorneys Mark Grueskin and Richard Westfall find themselves representing opposite parties in court. But they both profess a deep respect for the judicial system — and each other. They pose in front of The Statesman’s wall of campaign buttons in August.
Photos by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
Statesman: Do your lips ever get wet when you see some policy issues coming around? Do you think, “I know that this is going to fall into my office at some point.” We’re just wondering if in any of the issues you see in following the legislature or politics in Colorado, do you think “oh my goodness, this is going to end up in court”?
Westfall: Oh yeah (laughs). I think there are some times that you can… I’m not going to opine on any one specific but yes, there are certain things that do bubble up, I think, in the legislative process that you go, “That’s a recipe for a court challenge.”
Statesman: Right. On the other hand were you not a little surprised about the recent court cases involving the recall and what the legislature did with the election law? I mean that was probably not predicted that the libertarians were going to sue. Is that correct, would you say that was a surprise?
Grueskin: I don’t try to predict stuff.
Westfall: I think after you’ve been doing this long enough you get out of the prediction business.
Statesman: But even when you see a bill like the Election Law Bill, like [House Bill] 1303, which was so contentious and had so many different legal ramifications to it as far as elections, you don’t look at a policy like that going through the legislature and think, “That has to be litigated at some point?”
Westfall: Let me start with saying a couple of things. Number one: the Republican Party wasn’t consulted, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s so contentious. So as far as 1303 is concerned, I have concerns about the fact that it was not done in a true bipartisan fashion. I don’t think merely trying to secure the approval of a couple county clerks who happen to have a Republican affiliation was sufficiently bipartisan… That’s my own view, and Mark may have a very different view.
From a simple policy perspective, as far as litigation is concerned related to that, I was at Ryan Call’s appointment on the 1303 Commission and I attend the meetings every week and I am trying my best, given the fact that I didn’t necessarily agree with any aspects of 1303, to try my best to make it work. I’m not trying to generate litigation involving 1303. I’m not sure I have a true breach of fiduciary or a true fiduciary duty to the Commission but I think in spirit I certainly do. I mean I’m going to try my best to try to make 1303 work as best I can and participate as a meaningful member of the commission. I know you’re using 1303 as an example. Because it’s too close to me personally both from a partisan standpoint and then also from being a Commission member standpoint. I think I needed to clarify that.
Statesman: Is it my imagination or does Colorado just seem to have more election-related activities, such as lawsuits and things?
Grueskin: I think it’s your imagination. I think there are plenty of states… Colorado didn’t have any litigation in a presidential campaign. You know, you had it in Florida, you had it in Ohio, you had it in a series of states and I’m not sure I can say why that is but… I mean what happens in Colorado, obviously, is you’ve got ease of access to the ballot in terms of ballot measures so there are more of those issues than post-election or pre-election legal activity.
Westfall: We have GAVEL Amendment [GAVEL is the acronym for Give A Vote to Every Legislator and it was adopted in 1988. The amendment to Colorado’s constitution requires that each bill introduced be given a fair hearing with opportunity for public comment], we have really robust campaign finance laws, we have really robust transparency laws, open meetings, open records. All of which translate to litigation in some sense but it’s not the kind of bitter litigation I think you’re seeing in other parts of the country. I think we have more than our fair share of interesting characters that take part in the litigation process sometimes.
Grueskin: Do you want me to step out of the room?
Westfall: No (laughs), you’re not included in that.
Grueskin: Oh, that’s a shock.
Westfall: And they will go nameless. But there are some people… We have more than our share of, I’d say, interesting litigation. That being said, it doesn’t get down into — picking up on a point that Mark made earlier — it doesn’t get down into this sort of nuclear war, this bitter litigation you’re seeing in so many other parts of the country. I’m the Colorado chapter chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association, so every two years I go to the Election Law seminars, kind of our national convention, if you will, and I get a lot of [information] both during drinks after the sessions and what have you and even during the programs, I get a pretty good flavor for what’s going on in some of the other states. And it is so much more civil here in Colorado compared to what it is in many other states and I don’t know what kind of inside scoop you get on the Democratic side of the equation but that’s certainly the impression I get with my Republican brethren and sisters in dealing with some of these election law issues on a national level.
Grueskin: You know, I think Colorado ends up being what’s called a social laboratory for ideas in the state, and so that necessarily spawns interesting policy related litigation.
Westfall: How many pieces of litigation on TABOR, for crying out loud? I mean one of which you and I are involved with. [The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, abbreviated TABOR, was passed by Colorado voters in 1992. The measure amended Article X of the Colorado Constitution that restricts revenues for all levels of government: state, local, and schools.]
Grueskin: Right, right, right. No, I mean TABOR definitely, as predicted became a legal exercise much more so than a policy exercise, and I’m not sure that it wasn’t intended to be full of “gotchas” because it was so oddly worded in so many places.
Statesman: Richard, your thoughts on that, the odd wording of TABOR? No?
Westfall: No (laughs).
Statesman: Can you maybe just mention your feelings about the author of that amendment? [Douglas Bruce was the citizen author of Colorado’s legendary TABOR Amendment that severely limits revenue growth.]
Grueskin: No, I really… I mean the truth is I have a lot of respect for his intellectual prowess.
Statesman: I think everybody does.
Grueskin: Beyond that I don’t really… Yeah, the truth is I don’t really obsess about the people who are involved in either the policy or the politics side of what we do. I mean they just are who they are, and their ideas are what they are and…
Statesman: Is there a difference going from one, for instance Democratic state chairman to the next and working with the parties? Has it changed quite a bit?
Grueskin: What’s it like for you? (glances at Westfall)
Westfall: I mean each person is different. Each person has his or her own agenda and things that that particular chairman or that particular policy person wants to advance. At the end of the day the kinds of issues that boil out of each administration, if you will, whether it be the party chairman, whether it be a governor, whether it be the particular configuration of the legislature, the kinds of issues that arise have a certain generic quality about them and that over time I think — and Mark’s been doing this longer than me, and I’d be interested to get Mark’s reaction to what I just said — but the kinds of issues that arise, if you take a step back and look at them on a more 40,000 foot level, we’re squabbling about things now that we were squabbling about 20, 30 years ago. I mean the names have changed, the specific labels if you will, that are attached to the disputes are different, the people are different, but people have been squabbling about politics… And I mean you go back and look at some of the early fights, there were some donnybrooks, particularly way back when. Last time I really did some history, sort of in the ‘20s and ‘30s. I mean when we had sort of the Ku Klux Klan element in Colorado, I mean there was some really hairy political litigation, if you will, occurring during that time.
Grueskin: There was a period of time in Denver where the Ku Klux Klan had such a hold on the Bar that you couldn’t go to court unless you were co-counsel with someone who was… that’s what I’m told. And particularly for Jewish lawyers there was no way that… I mean it was a real challenge. But I guess I would differ with Richard only slightly, which is 20 or 30 or 40 years ago you had these [issues]… And I’m a child of the ‘60s so those are the issues… The issues that were being debated were issues that were debated so that there could be resolution and there was debate between the parties. Now the debates — and I’m talking primarily at the national level — occur within the parties at the primary election level, such that by the time people end up in Congress there’s no debate to be had because you already — you’re kind of ignoring that constituency that got you there.
If what Richard and I do can be useful in terms of adding to the civility of the discourse between opposing political views, then maybe that begins to be the bridge so that our principals are able to, notwithstanding the vehicle by which they got to political power, are actually able to say, “I can talk to him about stuff.” We’re not going to necessarily come to a 100 percent agreement, but my guess is on a lot of fundamental issues Richard and I are probably 20 percent away from one another, we’re not 100 percent.
Westfall: That’s probably right.
Grueskin: And we could find middle ground. You know, there are certain issues that we probably couldn’t agree on, that’s okay, but I’ll bet you in the main, you and I could find moderate positions between where we might ordinarily come that would be okay. I mean, you know, the whole essence of compromise is that you’re a little bit unhappy.
Westfall: Especially about policy. I mean it should be about process as opposed to policy. I mean sort of the integrity of the process, if you will.
Grueskin: I’ve got a picture in my office; it’s a wire photo from 1963, and it’s got Everett Dirksen [former Republican Senate Minority Leader from Illinois] and Mike Mansfield [Democrat and the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader, serving from 1961 to 1977] and they had just worked out the deal on the Civil Rights Act. It’s possible, it is possible. And the reason it’s in my office is because the end game is not the tactic of being in court, the end game is having a process that generates laws that work for all of Colorado.
Statesman: Does it not strike you, though, that it’s become more partisan over the years?
Westfall: Oh, yes.
Statesman: And not as nice? I mean I’ve been at the paper for a long time — the ‘70s — and it just seemed like it was less polarizing back then. Each party mixed together more. It was friendlier, it wasn’t so adversarial, and that it just keeps ratcheting up. Do you see that at all or pay attention to it or does it not affect your interpretation of things?
Grueskin: I come back to a point I made earlier. If, in order to be elected, you need to be as far away from the middle as possible, because that’s the way you get through primaries, then how in the world, if you end up with people at the poles of their ideological spectrum, how in the world do you then, once you both take the oath of office, come together and say, “Let’s find the middle ground?” And I think both parties are inclined towards that result in the primary process. I don’t know what you do about it.
Statesman: But does the tenor seem more strident these days?
Grueskin: Well, I mean what used to happen was that if this is the middle for you, people got elected from the Democratic spectrum here and the Republican spectrum here. Now they’re here. And the truth is they’re all people of good conscience so there’s got to be a way to tap into their fundamental desire to engage in public service and produce something that works for Colorado.
Statesman: (to Westfall) Do you agree with that take?
Westfall: I think people are becoming more and more aware of the need for statesmanship and I’m not sure I completely agree or disagree with Mark, I’ll certainly think about it some more. But I do think that there are folks in the past who had statesmanship, who exhibited statesmanship. I’m a chronic optimist, as Mark well knows — I think there has been some partisanship, we’re seeing it at the national level. We’ve seen it bubble up more, I think, at the state level.
But I think you’re going to see more and more of people wanting to go back and become more… exhibit more statesmanship, and I think the Queen Mary’s turning ever so slightly back in that direction again. I think term limits kind of had something to do with it for a period of time. I think… It’s one thing when you were working with somebody for 20, 30 years as the folks in the legislature were, you just you knew… You’d gone to their wedding even though they’re on the other side and gone to the bar mitzvah or whatever and you’d been part of that. I remember very vividly when I was in the AG’s office back in the mid-‘90s, The Profile [a French restaurant a block from the state Capitol during the 1970s and ‘80s] was still open right across the street on Sherman.
Statesman: Oh right, on Sherman, right.
Westfall: Right across the alley from you. And watching the leadership and the Joint Budget Committee and the Rs and the Ds and they’re in there after work and after session and just yukking it up and having a good old time. And I’m afraid you don’t see that anymore… Even assuming Mark’s premise correct about coming from further away from the middle in the election process, still over time — and I also agree with Mark’s point about people — they’re all well-meaning. When well-meaning people are given a level of familiarity with folks, even with whom they significantly disagree, if you’ve been to that person’s high school’s… you know, their kid’s high school graduation or you’ve been to their bar mitzvah… you just can’t get up on the floor and engage in nasty partisan dirty tricks to the level that you’ve seen exhibited sometimes. So I just think the lack of collegiality, lack of just socializing together, lack of familiarity, has greatly exacerbated it.
Statesman: Or maybe Amendment 41. Because I know a lot of folks have said — you might disagree — but a lot of the lobbyists put together those events, and now there’s a fear factor of getting involved in those things. [Amendment 41 is a citizen initiative adopted by Colorado voters in 2006 that restricts state employees from receiving gifts and special discounts that have a value of more than $50. The measure ended many of the social get-togethers for legislators sponsored by lobbyists and other organizations.]
Westfall: Whether it’s an unintended consequence or not, I think it’s had the effect of enhancing its isolation and lack of getting together and lack of collegiality.
Statesman: How would you describe Colorado’s judiciary… ?
Westfall: (looks towards Grueskin) Go for it.
Statesman: Do you have favorite judges?
Grueskin: Oh, right, yeah exactly (with sarcasm in his voice).
Statesman: Which ones do you not like?
Grueskin: Oh, I have to be very honest with you… I’m sure I haven’t been in front of as many judges as Richard. Every judge I’ve ever been in front of, because these issues are so important, throws him or herself at them. They read the cases before you expect them to, they do independent research. They may come from a background that is totally divorced from what we do, they may have been former Assistant DAs, they may have been commercial practitioners, but every single judge I’ve ever been before in Colorado has shown an interest and a commitment to resolving these kinds of issues in the best way that they possibly can. I’ve never run into a judge who after trial say, “Geez, I wish they would have been more knowledgeable, more thoughtful.” I disagree with some of their rulings, but it’s not because they haven’t committed themselves to these issues. And that’s a pretty extraordinary piece of the process because we think about electing and legislating but the truth is the judiciary shows such a thorough commitment to the fair and thoughtful resolution of these issues that I can’t tell my clients how these issues are going to be resolved but you know that you’re going to get a good and fair and open hearing.
Westfall: I would agree with, I think, everything Mark said. Every single case… these kinds of cases that Mark does, I mean I think I have other things, more different than your milieu.
Grueskin: Absolutely you do, absolutely you do.
Westfall: But certainly in the kind of work where Mark and I would be involved in a case, judges really take this very seriously and are very interested and try very hard to reach the right result.
Statesman: When you go in before a judge do you have a premonition of the way that you think they may rule or is everything just sort of… not a free-for-all, but are all bets off when you get into that courtroom? I guess what I’m asking is, are there certain judges who you feel like you have a read on before you get there?
Westfall: I continue to be disabused of that you know? I mean it’s like you don’t… even if you think that you have some sense of a way a judge may be leaning as a result of past decisions or past work in that courtroom, I’m always surprised. You have to approach this, you give it your absolute 100 percent best effort and you do the best you can for your clients or advancing your clients’ interests and at the end of the day the judge makes the decision.
Grueskin: I actually don’t have any premonitions or sense of where a judge might be coming from. And as soon as you start to typify a judge you’re going way off the deep end. And you know clients always want to know, “Well, what’s this judge like?” Well, I mean you know a little bit about their background but you don’t really know how they’re going to grapple with this issue. But they’re so openly fair that I think each one comes in as a blank slate. And I say that in a complimentary way, I mean they don’t come in with a sense of “How am I going to justify the place that I would like to come out to?” And that’s… I mean in a certain respect it’s a heck of a lot easier and better and more edifying participating in a process like that than participating in a political process where you don’t think that you’re going to be heard because of some other set of objectives.
Westfall: Imagine practicing in a jurisdiction doing political related law like we’re talking about right now, where the judges are elected.
Grueskin: Right, ugh.
Westfall: And I have heard horror story after horror story after horror story (laughs)…
Statesman: Yeah, and contributed to their campaign.
Westfall: …about these jurisdictions and what it’s like to practice, let alone doing… I mean just to do regular civil litigation, let alone do political work. I mean we’re very blessed to have the system we have.
Statesman: Yeah. What’s been the biggest surprise in terms of the cases you’ve handled? Can you think of one in particular where you were just really surprised by the outcome? Recall?
Grueskin: Really surprised by the outcome. You know, there’s always surprise. I mean we’ve said that you have no sense of going in where a judge is going to be and they’re absolutely fair, there’s always kind of surprise. And there’s nervous anticipation. Both Richard and I will go through these cases absolutely convinced that we’ve won and the other one has done the best possible job with a really bad case but it always ends up some place in the middle. (looks at Westfall) I mean do you have…?
Westfall: None that I can think of.
Grueskin: Oh, I’ll tell you one surprise. And this seems to be an add-on to what we were talking about. Some of the pressures are purely political but some of them are institutional. And when Republicans controlled both houses in the legislature and when Governor [Bill] Owens was on the first floor, I mean that should have been, just as the Democrats controlling all those institutions, should have been Shangri La, but they got into their own head-butting and the legislative Republicans sued the governor over some spending and Long Bill issues. And we got…
Westfall: I went over and watched the Colorado Supreme Court arguing about that and I was like, what? (laughs)
Grueskin: And you know, we got hired and that was an interesting interview because it was me and the Republican leadership (laughs)… suing the governor. So I mean basically I said, “Look, you’re not going to hire me, you know that, I know that, so how about let’s just we’ll figure… I’ll give you five minutes, you give me five minutes then I’ll be out of your hair.” They kind of smiled, and leaned back and I said, “I’ll tell you this, I’m the only lawyer you’re talking to who doesn’t care if he doesn’t get a Christmas card from the governor because I’m not on that list.” And we talked about strategy and ultimately got hired. That case was a surprise because it was interrogatories, so that’s the Supreme Court and I objected… There were two issues, one was about a bill, one was about a policy and I said, “Fine, they’ll decide… They’ll leave the bill alone, they’ll decide the policy. They’re not going to sign a bill” and the court did exactly the opposite. Exactly the opposite. So you know, trying to prognosticate the judicial results is a recipe for failure because… At least I’m never right.
Westfall: No, it’s just very… there’s too many examples of where all the tea leaves would suggest A and it comes out B. I mean if you’ve been doing this long enough, you’ve seen too many examples of surprises, if you will, to the point where to answer this question now would be… I mean there have been many over the last couple of decades since I first started getting involved a little bit with political work when I was in the AG’s office under Gale Norton, and you see enough things that you just say, “Hey, don’t get hung up on that.” You need to be focusing on really advising your client as best you possibly can advise your client and then when you’re forced to be anathema in court you try to do the best you possibly can with what you’re doing.
Statesman: And then sometimes you’re on the same side. I mean is that correct? For instance in this latest thing on the recalls the Republicans and Democrats seemed like they were almost united. [Two Democratic state senators have been undergoing recall elections in Pueblo and in Colorado Springs.]
Westfall: I was not part of the case but I looked at Mark’s brief. I thought A, he’s making the arguments that from an institutional standpoint would make sense. I mean for a lot of reasons the Republican Party didn’t intervene in that and I doubt if we’re going to be involved. I understand you’re going to be going to the Colorado Supreme Court?
Grueskin: Filed the papers this afternoon.
Westfall: Okay, so you’re going to the Colorado Supreme Court. For a lot of reasons the Republican Party didn’t intervene but certainly I couldn’t say we’re on the same side. I think there have been times, though, that we’ve been on the same side from an R&D standpoint.
Statesman: Can you think of any?
Westfall: We’re not even at R&D, you and I have had different paths. There’s got to be at least one in there somewhere.
Grueskin: There’s got to be one.
Westfall: We’ll have to think about it.
Grueskin: It’s just a matter of the odds.
Westfall: And if there hasn’t been there will be, I’m sure.
Grueskin: But you know, I mean it’s kind of a small election bar so you end up sometimes… I mean Secretary of State [Scott] Gessler and I were on the same side at times. John Zakhem and I have been on the same side on something. It’s why you don’t engage in [personal attacks].
Statesman: Because you never know, right?
Grueskin: Well, you never know and frankly it doesn’t get you any place. You know, it was very interesting, Judge [Robert] McGahey in the most recent recall hearing [convened after a lawsuit challenged the emergency rules adopted by the Secretary of State’s office for conducting recll elections] said, “Look, I want to talk about the law, I do not want to talk about politics,” because he had read some papers — we’ll leave it at that — that were diatribes and he, to his credit, said, “That is not what I do “the hearing lawsuit challenged emergency rules adopted by the secretary of state’s office to govern the recall elections
Statesman: Yeah, several times.
Grueskin: Yeah, and he made it absolutely clear. And I don’t really think he was talking to the lawyers.
Westfall: Well, he was talking about a lot of the tweeting and things like that that were going on.
Grueskin: But he said it at the outset of the hearing.
Statesman: Because I remember lawyers would say things and it would sort of spark him to… You know what I’m saying?
Grueskin: Right. But you know, there were witnesses and principals who made these… serious statements that were totally political.
Statesman: Well, and the Pueblo Clerk and Recorder, that was a line of questioning, was about that.
Grueskin: Yeah, but I’m talking about in their papers. And I mean that’s why I think, to a person, the judges in these cases say, “You know what, I’m not part of your policy dispute, I don’t care about your political divide, I want to hear about the law. If you’ve got some facts that are really important for me to hear about, I’ll hear about those. But other than that. I don’t really care why you two do or don’t go out for a beer at the end of the day.”
Grueskin: And frankly, Rich and I have done a couple of redistricting cases, both judges, [John] Coughlin and [Robert] Hyatt, could not have been more open in terms of looking at their role as being one that would take virtually all the input that was offered as opposed to running it like it was a trial or a contract provision or something like that. And so I mean that’s where the bench is, I mean they’re about… And it’s funny because they all know that these cases are at least susceptible to going straight up to the Supreme Court.
Statesman: Right, and usually “Do Not Pass Go.”
Grueskin: They’re so diligent about it, they’re so committed about quick turnaround with these decisions and thorough hearings and not making technical rulings that can somehow keep the evidentiary presentations from being everything that they could be.
Statesman: Right. You talked about not allowing these cases… to think about them in the sense that it shakes the ground, right? But to many of your clients — redistricting is what made me think of this — it’s groundbreaking, it shakes the ground. And seeing as you both have political affiliations how do you then separate yourself, while you’re trying those cases, from realizing that the implications of this are earth shattering to not just your clients but to the voters and to the parties and to the interests of the state?
Westfall: I think I’d have to say that there are cases, like redistricting, where you get very, very consumed by it, as you should.
Grueskin: That’s good to hear that you do too.
Westfall: Mark worked very, very hard on that and at the end of the day his position was adopted, and virtually in toto, by Judge Hyatt with one modification to House District 6, which turned out to be important, at least for the last election. But that was months and months of very hard-fought work and if you don’t get caught up in it at some level… I mean I don’t want to suggest that Mark nor I are some dispassionate automaton, I mean Mark gets really worked up about it, Mark’s a very passionate advocate. And with some of these issues, you have to take it seriously because our clients take it seriously.
I mean his congressional delegation, the folks he put on obviously felt very… you know, this was very important to them. And when I’m putting on, for example Congressman [Cory] Gardner, I mean it’s important to him. I mean you’d better very much be believed. You’ve got to be a zealous advocate. Before we had the Rules of Special Conduct we had the old Disciplinary Rules and the old Canon 4 of the Disciplinary rules was, “You will zealously represent the interests of your client.”
And I still believe that very strongly and some of these things, like redistricting or whatever it happens to be, some of these cases, I mean you get caught up in them more than others because it requires zealous advocacy and I don’t think you can completely turn off emotion. But what tempers it is in the back of your mind there’s still certain punches you can’t throw because those are foul punches, and they’re unprofessional and they’re not consistent with what a professional should do. And I think to really be a good advocate you need to be a zealous advocate, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing but there just has to be a line that you don’t cross. And then when it’s said and done and the dust settles… Sometimes it takes longer for the dust to settle than in other cases, but you… I always come back to I respect Mark very, very much. He’s an incredibly formidable advocate and a formidable adversary. I mean I know when he’s on the other side even if it’s something that I think I have the winning argument on, Mark somehow always finds a way to come up with something you go wow, you scratch your head on, “My God, that was a novel interpretation to come up with.”
Grueskin: You totally had me going until you got to the novel interpretation piece. But you know, I feel similarly about Richard, and clients say, “Well gee whiz, who’s going to be on the other side of you?” “Probably going to be Westfall.” “Well, what’s he like?” And I tell them honestly, I said, “Look, if there’s a smarter lawyer in Colorado, I don’t know who he is.” I mean Richard’s resume is something I could only dream of. I mean you know, he clerked at the United States Supreme Court. I couldn’t clerk for Judge Judy.
Westfall: That I don’t believe. I think Mark just decided early in his career he didn’t want to try that route. I’d be interested to know what you decided to do early on, but you could have easily, I’m sure, had those opportunities.
Grueskin: What I have to be really careful about is that there is this whole political multilevel conversation going on about what we do. And actually, kind of a semi-war story. I got a call by a reporter who said, “Gee whiz, there was some tweet about something you said yesterday in the trial and there was a comparison to what you said in the trial with Richard as opposed to the trial yesterday, the trial on Monday.” And I don’t know, did you ever watch West Wing when it was on?
Statesman: Loved it.
Grueskin: Yeah, so frankly in terms of what we do there’s one episode…
Westfall: Irrespective of its pop political background I liked watching the show.
Grueskin: There was an episode where Josh Lyman… And this is kind of at the incipient stage of the Internet, but sees a blog that he’s mentioned and so he goes up and he types a response. And his assistant says, “What are you doing?” and he says, “Well, these are really interested people and if they only knew the truth… And so what I’m going to do is I’m going to educate them and then they’ll agree with me.” And she said, “Don’t hit send, don’t hit send, don’t hit send!” And he hits send and of course it snowballs…
So kind of in terms of what we do you have to insulate yourself from the political noise because the criticism of me was that I’d taken two different positions and I wasn’t really committed to constitutional guarantees in this case for Monday. Well, there’s a constitutional guarantee that every person in Colorado gets a secret ballot, there’s a constitutional guarantee that every person in Colorado who’s qualified and registers gets to vote. And did I want to go spend 140 characters on that message? No, because I couldn’t do it in 140 characters.
But are those the kinds of motivating factors for people like Richard and me? You bet they are. And you know, we understand that our clients probably kick each other’s shins over issues of policy or personality or even politics, it’s not where we go, it’s not what we do. And we have stayed committed to that for a dozen years of political litigation that I can think of and I can’t imagine that we would want to do it any other way. I mean even when Richard wins the recall case or I win a case, I mean your ego’s a little bruised because you committed a lot of time and a lot of effort to planning a case and legal theory but you ultimately have to both trust the process, the judicial process, and you have to have regard for the person who drafted an argument that a judge found more compelling.
Statesman: When you each started out in your legal careers were you along the election side of it or did it just sort of become something you moved into or did you…?
Grueskin: I bet our answers are very different. So you should answer first.
Westfall: Okay. I was a senior policy analyst at Public Service Company of Colorado and I was dealing with lawyers all the time on energy issues and nuclear power at that time. Public Service had Fort St. Vrain… [a former nuclear power plant in Platteville that was later decommissioned to a natural gas-fired combined cycle plant.] In fact I was involved in sort of the public policy of nuclear power, and the Carter Administration was fighting the electric utility industry — early development of sort of renewable, green energy, if you will…
There was aspects that were hostile to the industrial and electric utility industry. So that’s kind of where I cut my public policy teeth and it turned out to be sort of a precursor, if you will, of getting involved in public policy litigation. I was always interested in politics. When I came back from Washington D.C., I did my clerkship with Justice White and then worked at Davis, Graham and Stubbs in their Washington D.C. office, came back and then I worked on… I was part of the Republican Leadership Program ’91-92 class, and then I worked on Terry Considine’s campaign in ‘92.
Interesting thought: this is why you never make enemies. I mean Terry Considine’s opponent was Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Turns out after Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched parties, that was a time when I was in the Attorney General’s Office. He was one of the most important allies to some of the things we were trying to accomplish in Washington on a public policy level. So it just — it was through that that I sort of gravitated to being involved in the Republican Party, being involved in various campaigns, which I started doing in 1992. And it was sort of a natural fallout, if you will, given I’m a lawyer and I was becoming politically active, that over time I started getting involved in political related litigation, sort of evolution that kind of came out of that process.
Statesman: Prior to that you weren’t affiliated or you were affiliated with the Republican Party?
Westfall: Oh, I’ve been a Republican since, I think I voted for Dick Lamm when I first became 18 and was old enough to vote. And then shortly after… And then by the time Ronald Reagan rolls around in 1980 I was a hard core Reagan supporter and never have looked back since, I should say.
Statesman: What about you, Mark?
Grueskin: I walked my first precinct when I was 10 years old. Wally Stealey sent me in Colorado Springs.
Westfall: Wally Stealey? Wow, the dean, the Godfather.
Grueskin: He sent me to walk for [Democrat] Frank Evans in 1964 when Frank was running against J. Edgar Chenoweth and I was hooked from then on. And being in Colorado Springs and being a Democrat and a Jew you either had to accept the majority way or say, “You know what? I’ve got a stop sign right in front of the tsunami and I’m going to hold it.” (laughter) So I was active in politics, literally, I mean for years before my bar mitzvah, and then after college I managed Frank’s primary campaign down in Pueblo. And then when I was in law school the first big firm I talked to that was a former FTC commissioner from Texas — and I can’t do the Texas accent, but assume that this is in Texan — said, “Son, what do you want to do?” I said, “Well, actually I want to be an election lawyer.” He said, “Are you kidding me?” he said, “There is no such thing as election law.” This was 1976.
Westfall: Right, right.
Grueskin: He said, “You’ve got to figure out something to earn money for your family and you’ve got to be able to fit into this law firm.” I thought, damn (laughs). I’m not going to use the firm name because they’re still friends. And later on in my law school career I interviewed at a… I also got that job, by the way, just notwithstanding his question.
Statesman: And took it and worked there?
Grueskin: Took it and worked there and it was Akin Gump, Bob Strauss’ law office. [Strauss served as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee between 1972 and 1977 and served under President Jimmy Carter as the U.S. Trade Representative and special envoy to the Middle East.] I took that admonition to heart, so as I’m coming out of law school I’m interviewing with all these people I’ve seen in law firms and there’s a lawyer who says to me, “So what is it you want to do? What kind of law practice do you want to do?” So I’m thinking election law, election law, election law. No, there is no such thing as election law. Except the FDC is kind of burgeoning now, it’s about five years after the federal act has passed. And I said, “Well you know, my background is Economics, undergrad. I did my honors thesis in anti-trust in law school so anti-trust is the answer to your question.” He said, “You didn’t answer my question. I said, ‘What do you want to do?’ You just told me what you can do.
“And let me just tell you something, if you do anti-trust in our law firm you’re basically going to be sitting in a warehouse for six, seven years of your life going through paper. So tell me, is that what you want to do?” I thought about it and said, “Well, actually no.” So he said, “So don’t ever answer that question the same way again.” And it was really a good kind of caution that just because you have the tools to do things in law if it’s not something you really want to do, don’t go there. And you know, I worked at Akin, Gump for three years and then came back to Colorado and worked on [Gov. Richard] Lamm’s re-election campaign and was his lobbyist and did the Carlos Lucero campaign in ‘84, because I still had this campaign management thing. And then was Dick Lamm’s legal counsel for two years and started practicing and kind of that voice that I heard in that interview of, “Don’t tell people what you can do, tell them what you want to do,” was really strong. And this is so archaic but I’ve got to tell you I kind of came to the decision that I really, really, really did want to kind of be able to do the political law piece. And so every time there was a decision that came out we would rev up the fax machine and send out these little summaries, these little election law briefs, and gradually people started saying, “Well geez, you must really get this.”
Statesman: They started paying attention.
Grueskin: Yeah. So Richard…
Westfall: You were an early blogger (laughs)
Statesman: Via fax.
Grueskin: No, I’ve never blogged nor will I ever blog.
Statesman: Do you tweet?
Grueskin: I do tweet, I do tweet but I do it with Josh Lyman in the back of my mind.
Statesman: Right. What about you, Richard, do you tweet and do the social media? I can imagine how social media has changed the way you guys go about litigating. It came up in the recall case with Gil Ortiz, the Pueblo County Clerk & Recorder, where literally the line of questioning was about his tweets comparing “Can’t rule for the constitution here,’ and “Have to rule in favor of democracy.”
Grueskin: It’s totally changed things. It also came up in our case with libertarians. We used the libertarian website in a Twitter account to show that they’d been actively recruiting candidates and therefore they were engaged in this process long before anything that would have been suggested in their pleadings.
Statesman: Have you found that it’s changed the way you guys go about litigating things?
Westfall: I think it changes the discovery and makes available discovery that wasn’t available before emails, my God. You know, an area fraught with opportunity or peril, depending upon which side you’re on.
Grueskin: I tell all my clients the ‘E’ in email is not for ‘Electronic,’ it’s for ‘Evidence.’ So if that’s really what you want to create…
Statesman: You remember what it was like before email, do you not? I know it’s sort of hard to remember these days because how did we exist without all this stuff?
Grueskin: I mean Richard and I have very different… Richard is inherently a litigator and an appellate attorney, I mean at least that’s how I see you. And you are such a master of those two processes, the trial process and the appellate process that someone could take any issue and Richard would be totally at home with it. I kind of operate in a narrower set of milieus and I mean I don’t think I really…
Westfall: But he’s really good (laughs).
Grueskin: I don’t think I’ve really tried a case…
Westfall: Really good at it.
Grueskin: …other than like a campaign finance case before the 2001 redistricting case. And actually, that was really interesting because think about 2001. Internet pretty nascent, right?
Statesman: Yeah, yeah.
Grueskin: So somebody on your side, I think it was [attorney] Dick Kaufman, Dick told me it was him, had an expert witness from DU and I mean I didn’t know from the Internet. So I go up on the Internet, I put the guy’s name in and some stuff pops up and I think it’s pretty interesting and I notice it’s not exactly what he said on his resume and he kind of omitted that he had worked for a small evangelical college in Kentucky and that he had written a number of things that were then posted on the Internet. So I said, in trial, “Is this your resume?” “Oh, yeah.” “Is it complete?” “Oh, yeah.”
“You said you provided the court with every one of your professional affiliations.” “Absolutely.” “And all of your scholarly articles.” “Absolutely.” “How about X College in Kentucky?” “Oh, I didn’t think I had to tell you that.” “And how about these articles that talk about how redistricting can be used to establish a particular partisan approach?” “Well, I didn’t realize I had to tell you that too.” And but for the Internet I wouldn’t know about this guy.
Statesman: You’re like “Man, this Internet’s going to have some possibilities,” huh?
Grueskin: But you also have to not be seduced by it. Because it doesn’t…
Statesman: Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s…
Grueskin: That’s true too but the essence of putting on a case is not about finding somebody’s email or tapping their website or anything else, it’s really about doing the kind of fundamental legal thought process that I know Richard does in getting ready for a new case because… And then you start to accumulate the evidence that matches up with your legal theory. So those lawyers who think “Oh wow, the Internet is my vehicle to success in court” are kidding themselves in the extreme.
Statesman: I know you gentlemen probably over-prepare for your cases before they come up.
Westfall: It’s almost hard to do, given the timeframes that you’re usually dealing with. That’s one of the great things about political work.
Grueskin: There’s a lot of gun-slinging that goes on.
Westfall: There has to be, I mean because you’re dealing with such truncated timeframes. But the beauty of it is…
Statesman: It’s done.
Westfall: You do it, you get in there, you go to court quickly. It’s not one of these things you spend two and a half years engaging in pre-trial motions and discovery fights and what have you (laughs).
Grueskin: Well you know, in the most recent redistricting case I tried it with my partner Martha Tierney and my former partner Lila Bateman, and Lila is a genius of a litigator. She’s civil, “Let’s talk about the depositions we’re going to do with all our witnesses.” And I said, “We’re not doing depositions.” She said, “Well how do we know what they’re going to say?” And Richard and I talked and we agreed to have brief encapsulations of the witness statements. I said, “That’s what we do.” I mean and also, that speaks, frankly, to the good faith between us because I never wondered whether or not Richard was going to be unfair or inaccurate in representing what his case was going to be. And I hope you didn’t either because that’s just not the way we do things.
Statesman: What do you do to decompress afterwards? Do you have hobbies? What do you do for relaxation? Like when you go all night writing briefs and then go into court, try them all day, what do you do when you have some free time to forget about that?
Grueskin: I don’t know what Richard does.
Westfall: Television, flyfishing, bird hunting and golf.
Statesman: Television, flyfishing, bird hunting? Bird watching or hunting?
Westfall: Bird hunting. And golf, depending on the season.
Grueskin: I didn’t know about the bird hunting. I knew that you were an avid golfer and fly fisherman.
Statesman: How about you?
Grueskin: I like to get up in the mountains and hike and just kind of get away. I like to get to a point where there is no cell coverage.
Statesman: (Laughs) Who can blame you.
Grueskin: Because it’s a wonderful thing being connected all the time except when it’s not and frankly, after a big case like that there’s nothing better than… I have flat feet so I can’t do fly fishing and I played golf for a long time then I decided I was either going to get very good or I was just going to stay okay and I had young kids and I didn’t want spend time on that. And that’s kind of been my other, if I have a preoccupation, it’s my two daughters.
Statesman: Do you guys see each other socially or… I know you’re friends and all that but you don’t have raging parties at your houses or anything like that with each other?
Westfall: Not really. I think we’ve had coffee together.
Grueskin: Right, right, right. And you know, I think it’s interesting, I mean we’ve got what I think is an excellent professional relationship and I would be worried about mucking it up with something else. Because, frankly, each of our clients needs to know that when the day comes there’s nothing that we won’t do within the ethical guidelines of the profession in order to make a legal argument. And so I think Richard and I have exactly the right chemistry and interchange.
Westfall: I’d agree with that.
Statesman: Do you guys watch basketball?
Grueskin: Some college basketball.
Statesman: I was going to say you guys remind me of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson… Because they were fierce competitors but they had this mutual respect. They were friends, they didn’t like socialize and stuff like that but there was always just… Do you feel that you help each other to drive better cases because you know that you’re facing such fierce competition?
Grueskin: I’ll answer that one first. And I meant what I said before, I know that when Richard’s on the other side it’s going to be the academic, legal ballast that is going to be brought to bear is going to be substantial and if I let it be it will be overwhelming. But knowing that… And that’s not to say that if Richard isn’t on the other side I think it’s a cakewalk but Richard — How do I say this without sounding sycophantic — but Richard’s writing is both structured and supported in a way that judges, I think, love. It’s totally compelling, it’s totally high level and I love that. I love reading his briefs except for the fact that I’ve got to figure out how to answer them. But there’s never a swing and a miss when Richard’s at bat.
Westfall: And with Mark there’s never any stone that’s not thought of or unturned. I think Mark’s way too modest about his intellectual prowess, but a fact that he does this line of political work, and as he’s just said, here today, has been doing it from… wanting to do it since he was very, very young and has truly made a career out of it, there’s no one that has the entire depth of historical knowledge and real… We’re not supposed to use the word expertise as lawyers, I think that’s supposed to be a no-no but I’ll violate that anyway since we’re doing this in a non-legal context. But subject matter expertise in election law, Mark has no peer.
Statesman: And does that help you to be a better attorney sometimes when you’re going up against him in his cases?
Westfall: I know it’s going to be… that the entire breadth of knowledge, his case preparation, his whole argument in court, I mean it’s really… He’s has no peer. I mean he’s the very best at it so I know that’s what we’re going to be doing.
Statesman: That’s a great way to bring this around. Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you’d like to go on the record saying?
Grueskin: I would say this, and it’s a little bit of a follow up to what you just said: one of the reasons, I think, that the election bar is as high-level and as committed to doing the right thing ethically as it is, is that we have had a peer until about six months ago in the Attorney General’s office, Maurie Knaizer, whose view always was that these issues were incredibly important and that the resolution of them meant that justice was done. And Maurie was really an extraordinary colleague in this practice and to have someone of that ethical commitment… He really is the dean of election law bar. He’s forgotten more election law than I’ll ever know, but he always did it with extraordinary integrity. And frankly, being in a case with Maurie… And he was in every single case that Richard and I have ever been in, every single one… [The popular attorney originally joined the Colorado Attorney General’s office in 1979 and represented a half dozen each of governors, secretaries of state, state treasurers, and the Colorado judicial system during his 32 years there.]
Westfall: Until he retired, yes, just about.
Grueskin: You didn’t even think about playing some sort of legal game with Maurie Knaizer. He was the influence of highest and best goals of the legal profession and the incentive he brought to bear in what we do… I mean he’s really got an interesting legacy because Richard and I always enjoyed having Maurie involved in a case and so… I guess I would just say that yes we get along, we get along because we respect each other, but there has always been… And Maurie’s successors are likewise terrific but we’ve had more than a decade of work with Maurie and since then he was never… never raised his voice about anything, in court or otherwise, but it was always clear that he was going to do things absolutely the right [kind] of the way.
Westfall: I concur with everything Mark just said and I actually had one vignette I’ll add personal story with Maurie. When I was solicitor general at the AG’s office we had this case in the U.S. Supreme Court, ACLF v. Buckley, and I did most of the briefing but I worked with Maurie on the briefing and Gale herself argued in the U.S. Supreme Court and Maurie and I sat at counsel table and we got to spend quite a bit of time out in Washington helping Gale prep for oral argument and to sit at counsel table together at the Supreme Court with Gale. It was a neat personal moment to share with somebody who really was just an extraordinary public service lawyer that really did, I think have… I’m glad that you thought of that, you really had a lot to do with setting the tone and the tenor that we’re benefiting from today.
Statesman: Good. I wanted to thank you gentlemen for coming by and doing this. I hope it was enjoyable for you too, as it was for us, to listen to.
Westfall: It was fun.
Statesman: Yeah, you guys are legal rock stars so it was a lot of fun to have you here for this (laughs).
Grueskin: So I just want to know, and you don’t have to commit to this…
Statesman: Yes, what?
Grueskin: But am I Magic Johnson or am I…?
Statesman: (Laughs) I was going to ask you guys that question, but you didn’t really seem to understand the reference so I…
Grueskin: No, no, no, I totally get the reference but…
Westfall: I have my own theory, I’m going to keep it to myself.
Grueskin: (looks at Statesman) You don’t have… You don’t have…
Statesman: I don’t have to have a theory.
Grueskin: No, you don’t have to but we’re off… You can turn off your recorder. We’re off the record now, we won’t quote you and there’s no insult either way, right?