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Faculty of Federal Advocates
P.O. Box 12025
Denver CO 80212-0025

Patricia Murphy

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Copyright © 2004-2013
Faculty of Federal Advocates


Faculty of Federal Advocates Newsletter

December 2003
Volume 6, Number 4

Table of Contents:

Amendment to the Federal Rules

The 108th Congress adjourned without taking any action on the amendments to the Federal Rules of
Appellate, Bankruptcy, and Civil Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence, approved by the Supreme Court on March 27, 2003. Accordingly, the following amendments to the rules took effect on December 1, 2003:

  • Appellate Rules: Official Forms 1, 2, 3, and 5;
  • Bankruptcy Rules 1005, 1007, 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2016, and new Rule 7007.1;
  • Civil Rules 23, 51, 53, 54, 71A, and Forms 19, 31, and 32; and
  • Evidence Rule 608(b).

The amended Rules can be found at http://www.uscourts.gov./rules/.

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Federal Judges and Federal Magistrate Judges Roundtable
Diane King

“The Roundtable fosters synergy between the bench and the bar.
As such, it was a meaningful endeavor.” - Chief Judge Lewis T. Babcock

An historic event in the history of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado occurred on November 8, 2003 and the courts were not even open! On that Saturday morning, the Faculty held its first ever Federal Judges and Federal Magistrate Judges Roundtable to discuss issues relevant to practice in District Court.

The Roundtable was patterned after a successful annual event held by the bankruptcy court and practitioners. Judge Marcia Krieger and Magistrate Judge Patricia Coan worked with Board members Diane King and Jim Lyons on the planning committee. Chief Judge Babcock provided support and liased with the District Court judges.

Chief Judge Babcock, Judges Nottingham, Miller, Krieger and Weinshienk along with Judge-designate Figa and all five Magistrate Judges participated in the event, along with over fifty trial attorneys with varying levels of experience in civil and criminal matters. The participants broke up into groups organized by topic and spent the morning discussing issues such as “The Use and Benefit of Dispositive Motions,” “Local Rules of Practice - What Works and What Doesn’t,” “Settlement Procedures,” “Roles of Lawyers and Court,” and “Effective Use of Courtroom Technology.”

The format was designed to provide for a dialogue between the participants, and it did just that. Judge Marcia Krieger remarked, “I learned a lot. It’s always good to know what works and what doesn’t.” The attorneys who attended also gave overwhelmingly positive feedback, describing the event as “surprisingly informative and useful” and “excellent.” One urged, “using this format and doing this at least annually,” while another, a ‘mentee,’ found it to be a “unique chance for dialogue with the federal judges and other experts.”

Given the constructive reactions from both the judges and the attorneys who attended, the Faculty plans to host another roundtable next year! Don’t miss out!

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Honorable Phillip S. Figa
Michael L. O’Donnell and Julie M. Walker

Phil Figa was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a scholarship to Northwestern University through a scholarship caddie program at a nearby country club. He graduated from Northwestern in 1973 with a degree in economics. He went on to attend Cornell Law School, graduating in 1976.

Phil started his law practice in Colorado at Sherman & Howard in 1976. In 1980, he left the firm at the behest of one its most successful partners, Hugh Burns, and together they formed Burns & Figa, P.C. In 1991, the firm became Burns, Figa & Will, P.C. at which time Phil took over as President.

For over 26 years, Phil maintained a broad litigation-oriented practice representing individuals, small and growing local businesses and national corporations. He also established a reputation as an expert in the field of legal ethics, has been appointed to several state and national committees on the subject and was qualified as a testifying expert on the topic numerous times.

Phil was extremely active in bar activities including serving as Chair of the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee in 1984-85 and as President of the Colorado Bar Association in 1995-96. He served on the Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Committee from 1994-97. Most recently, he served on the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline. Phil also dedicated himself to community activities, serving as Chairman of the Directors of the Mountain State Region of the Anti-Defamation League, in addition to supporting several other organizations.

Phil has been recognized with several awards including nomination into the International Society of Barristers (membership limited to “600 outstanding trial lawyers dedicated to excellence and integrity in advocacy”), the American Bar Foundation (membership limited to 1/3 of 1% of state’s bar) and the Colorado Bar Foundation. In 1998, he was honored by the Colorado Supreme Court for “outstanding leadership of the Coalition for the Independence of the Colorado Judiciary.” He has served as an instructor in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and at the University of Denver College of Law.

Phil was one of the founding members of the Faculty of Federal Advocates and is credited with the development of the very successful Pro Bono Mentoring Program. During the confirmation process, he was viewed by both parties as a highly intelligent and fair prospective jurist.

Phil and his wife Candace Cole Figa, who he met at Northwestern and married in 1973, have two children, Ben and Elisabeth, who both attend Northwestern.

Congratulations and best wishes to Judge Phil Figa as the newest judge in the District of Colorado.

Mr. O’Donnell, newly elected to the Board of the Faculty, is President and Director of Wheeler, Trigg & Kennedy, P.C., and Ms. Walker is Of Counsel.

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Counsel/Co-Counsel Program

The Faculty would like to thank those members who have accepted pro bono cases through the Counsel/Co-Counsel Program. The Faculty also thanks Steve Ehrlich and Nancy Rutledge of the United States District Court of Colorado who were instrumental in placing twenty-five cases with Faculty members this year.

The program provides invaluable representation to pro se litigants and a valuable experience for Faculty members practicing in the federal courts. The Faculty would also like to thank the following law firms for their contribution to the program this year: King & Greisen, LLC; Lafond & Sweeney,LLC; Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons, LLP; Socha, Perczak Setter & Anderson, PC; and Wolf & Slatkin, PC.

If you are interested in handling a case, please contact FFA Administrator Patricia Murphy at
303-455-0927 or U.S. District Court Chief Deputy Clerk Steve Ehrlich at 303-844-3433.

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President's Annual Report
James M. Lyons

The membership and Board of the Faculty can look back on 2003 with satisfaction and look forward to 2004 with anticipation. During the past year, the Faculty, in fulfillment of its mission, engaged in a number of important activities:

The Faculty sponsored brown bag lunches were held with District Judges Weinshienk, Miller, Daniel, Krieger and Chief Judge Babcock, as well as with Magistrate Judges Coan, Boland and Shaffer. These informal sessions to discuss individual courtroom procedures and techniques were well attended and uniformly regarded as instructive for both judge and lawyer. In the coming year, we expect to sponsor additional brown bags, which will continue to be supervised by individual Board members.

Continuing legal education sessions supervised by David Powell were held to provide hands-on experience with the new courtroom technology. With the assistance of Judge Nottingham and his staff, participants were tutored in electronic techniques for presentation of evidence by experienced practitioners such as Greg Goldberg who has an extensive civil and criminal background. The court’s technology administrator, Tom Hillburger, explained the availability of video testimony presentation and conferencing and offered his assistance to those wishing further training or help with particular evidentiary presentations. In the coming year, we will continue CLE for our pro bono mentoring program under the able direction of Rick Foster. We also are working with the Tenth Circuit to present an appellate program during the year.

The identification and assignment of pro bono/prisoner’s cases were reviewed and the system was overhauled and improved . The Court hired and assigned Nancy Rutledge to work from the Clerk’s Office with the Faculty to more effectively administer the program and to find experienced counsel to work with less experienced co-counsel to represent pro bono plaintiffs. During the year, with the assistance of Nancy, Steve Ehrlich and Gregory Langham, over twenty-five cases were placed, which eliminated the backlog.

At the suggestion of Board members Gary Lozow and Pat Murphy, the Faculty initiated an effort to identify and involve lawyers new to federal practice in the direction and programs of the Faculty. An inaugural luncheon was held with some twenty lawyers.

As more fully described in Diane King’s report in this newsletter, the Faculty held its first Bench/Bar Roundtable. The success of this event will form a solid basis for future, on-going discussion between the bench and bar and will augment the quarterly liaison meetings which are held between the Chief Judge and the Board’s Executive Committee (President, Past President and President-Elect).

This November saw the (temporary) end of the long and immeasurable service of Ray Micklewright to the pro bono mentoring program. Ray, a Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant, has volunteered for an indeterminate tour of duty with the State Department in Iraq to assist in the establishment of a justice and police system. Ray is no stranger to tough challenges and will bring his talent and drive to this one. We wish him Godspeed, success, and safe home.

The past year was marked by unwavering cooperation between the Faculty and the District and Magistrate Judges. The years ahead will hopefully build on this foundation and fulfill our joint objective of constantly working to improve the administration of civil and criminal justice for the public which we are sworn to serve.

Thanks to an outstanding and hard working Board, President-Elect Diane King, Past President Lance Sears, staff support from Murph and the Clerk’s office, and the commitment of Chief Judge Babcock and the District and Magistrate Judges, my year as Faculty President was simply a pleasure. Thank you for this opportunity to have served the Faculty and the Court.

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