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CO: Remembering Richard Matsch, Badass Judge With Courage of His Convictions

[westword.com – 5/28/19]

Judge Richard Matsch, who died on May 26 at the age of 88, is best known for having overseen the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh. But that’s only part of his legacy. Matsch, who served as chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Colorado from 1994 to 2000 and remained on the bench until earlier this year under senior status, was one of the most powerful jurists in the state for decades, as evidenced by his frequent mentions in Westword.

Among the most contentious of Matsch’s rulings in recent years was his conclusion that Colorado’s sex-offender registry violated the due-process rights of three plaintiffs — a decision that prompted Montrose County to take its registry offline for fear that making it available might lead to future litigation.

This call may seem surprising, considering that Matsch was nobody’s idea of a screaming liberal; note that he was appointed to the federal bench by President Richard Nixon way back in 1974. But he had the courage of his convictions, and that earned him the respect of colleagues whether they agreed with him or not.

Read more

Related links:

What You Think You Know About Sex Offenders Is Wrong, Attorney Says [westword.com – 9/6/17]

 

Join the discussion

  1. Joe

    Oh my! What does this mean? Anything?

    • AJ

      @Joe:
      It means we lost a quality jurist who took his job seriously and without a political or personal lens warping decisions. As for the RC case, it could be a problem if the 10th finds judicial error and remands it back to the District court. A new judge may rule differently. I’m hopeful that won’t happen.

  2. E

    RIP, Judge Matsch, and thank you for impartially viewing evidence and calling it as you saw it. I assume the 10th’s three judge panel votes on the appeal are long cast and we’re just waiting (forever) for the opinion to be written, but I would have loved him to see his ruling upheld. Please, may it be so.

    • Paul

      Agreed. Why is the written opinion taking so long? Any intelligence on this item? When will we hear the outcome?

  3. Tim

    The OMNIBUS94 was a topic on C-SPAN networks Washington Journal. I spent the morning waiting on hold to speak about the Ex post law contained therein. I did not get on the broadcast. Lots of folks calling in discussing facial inequity and mass incarceration but not one mentioned the sex offenders role in that in the rate of growth. Joe Biden himself had gave a speech supporting that OMNIBUS and it reasons and C-Span replayed it. Judge Matsch was very clear about the effect portion ( on human behavior) from the utilization of SOR regime. It merely advanced cruel and unusual attitudes toward each other. I believe Judge Matsch understood law forcing men subservient to machine database, without just cause nor process, an abhorrent affront to humanity. He understood the database regimes impact upon human nature to exclusions based on irrational fear. His ruling IMHO, was a direct indictment of SCOTUS under Rehnquist AND (the U.S. Solicitor Gen.)Judge Roberts ( His leadership) for their input into uphold law contamination given ” was in prison for …A sex crime. “.

    • AJ

      @Tim:
      “His ruling IMHO, was a direct indictment of SCOTUS under Rehnquist AND (the U.S. Solicitor Gen.)Judge Roberts ( His leadership)…”
      —–
      While I wholly agree with your sentiment and statement, you’re in error regarding Mr. Roberts. Mr. Roberts has never been the Solicitor General. He was Principal Deputy Solicitor General under Bush 41, then went into private practice. It was while in private practice that he argued Smith on behalf of Alaska. During that case, Solicitor General Ted Olson (trivia: his wife Barbara was killed on the 9/11 Pentagon flight) also argued in favor of Alaska. Later that year (2003), Bush 43 nominated Mr. Roberts to the D.C. CCoA. In 2005, Bush 43 nominated Mr. Roberts first to replace the seat of Justice O’Connor, then renominated him to fill the seat of the late Chief Justice Rehnquist.
      (https://www.oyez.org/justices/john_g_roberts_jr)

      Though I have often bemoaned Roberts being placed directly into the CJ spot (at the age of 50!), I shudder at who could have become CJ otherwise. Remember who came after Roberts and replaced O’Connor? Alito. Can you imagine the hell it would have been with *him* as Chief? Ugh!

      • E @ AJ

        Thanks for this clarification. I had that wrong on Roberts, as well. In any case, did he believe what he was advocating for at the time? Was the AK defense just a good private practice gig, or is he gung ho on the whole registry scheme?

        • AJ

          @E:
          I think Roberts was mostly a hired gun, though I also think he would have to go along with it on some level in order to represent his client faithfully. Looking back at argument on Smith, there were some questions and remarks from the 9-headed monster that went unaddressed. But for this or that minor shift in argument…. *sigh*

      • AJ

        AJ,
        Thx for the details on our current CJ. He’s still the man who turned the impractical question on it’s head and opted for unfettered use of the database. If you can make men subservient and still call them free men OR men at liberty be a distortion of the highest order. If it is your child who dies by way of texting\ phoning driver, or by their own Pavlovian response distraction, you’ll get what I’m talking about. Give a kid a modern cell – naked pics\ vids soon follow. Identity theft, phishing, suicide by bullying by social media, live stream rapes, bombings, posted fist fights , spewing of anger and hate. Data breaches galore, electronic poll tabulation, black lists, gerrymandering utility software, and on and on. The Don is busy hinting at calling them out. History will reveal such unnatural agendas ( big data) whereby the needs of machine upkeep outweighs the needs of man. Roberts goes down as the first fed to argue for states right to enslave humans to databases. Children too!

        Big data and computers in k 12 classrooms meanwhile the Chinese children kick out kids asses learning with with an abacus. Go figure! Matsch may have died from a broken heart.

        • E

          As evidenced by the grammar, this was definitely not @AJ posting to AJ…

        • Tim

          Whoops, my clear error, although the error was compounded by this machine I’m using( a kindle fire). Small device, big hand and fat fingers. The spell corrector on it is buggy. At any rate J.G.Roberts is no friend to liberty. Any official in the know would have bought premium shares in Seagate and other firms destined for growth based solely upon the newly developed sex offender information market created in the OMNIBUS94. SCOTUS AND LESSER COURTS initially denied ” a market was created” triggering more stringent review under the commerce clause challenges. UNFETTERED free Information flow was key to breaking ground for BIG DATA BUSINESS and laws restricting information flow had to be eliminated. Wisconsin had several laws limiting ” unauthorized information disclosure ” 1993 SEC.175.( WIACT 98). I cannot speak for California, but WI knew better before Whetterling and jail time ( 90 days per) and fines were in law should cops share ” department information” a la carte ( as SOR). The minority in DOES03 pointed to Norma Grace Constanteneau and ” posting without process. ” Rehnquist voted against his own HOME states rule in favor of the Federalist perspective.

          It is important to remember the homogeneous does not bring harmony in states presumption of 50 individual sovereigns. The feds put most of their eggs in the big data basket hoping it would provide results. The results are in.

  4. mike r

    RIP Judge Matsch. Lets hope there are many more like you to come into the system.

  5. TS

    If you do an online search of Judge Matsch, you will find various stories about him, but the WaPo, NYT, and Denver Post are the best ones with their obits and stories on him as a judge and a person. He truly will be missed as a jurist in our country when we need more like him on the bench.

    I will leave you with this from the NYT obit published yesterday, “Judge Matsch was not a joiner of professional groups and not ideological. But he once revealed, in a 1991 speech to the Denver Bar Association, that he did have a hero, even if he had to reach into fiction to find one.

    It was Atticus Finch, the righteous lawyer at the heart of Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Finch, the judge said, upheld the highest legal principles no matter how unpopular, and was “the opponent of oppression, the paradigm of propriety, the dean of decent citizens and the core of his community.”

  6. Tim

    .Mmockingbird was required reading at my H.S. No doubt Finches character was inspiring to the good judge then. It took some courage for him to embrace Kennedy s “change of heart “(NC V Packingham) for what Alito called ” loose rhetoric. ” Affirmative restraint no doubt unreasonable affirmative disability of speech was always at stake in the regime. Alitos’ presumption: If The people come to a realization they cannot do everything to protect kids ,the system failed. He presumes fed concern counts, therefore the day to day lives of the citizens IS a right and propper ” legitimate public interest. ” In other terms Alito disputes Gorsech’s ” Blank check” scenarios in Gundy pleadings.Orwell anyone?

  7. TS

    Here is an guest editorial by Judge Matsch’s colleague and friend, Senior US District Judge Kane, US District Court of CO in Denver, about Judge Matsch I believe you all will find interesting. We need more like Judge Matsch in the system and less of what we have to deal with today.

    Matsch reverently followed the path of the law

    https://gazette.com/opinion/columnists/guest-column-matsch-reverently-followed-the-path-of-the-law/article_192050a0-86d2-11e9-9015-e7d19b16ef11.html

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