Mario Nicolais

Author Archive | Mario Nicolais

Nicolais: State RFRA bill dies a faster, quieter death

Mario Nicolais
A perennially contentious proposal, this year’s religious freedom restoration bill, HB 17-1013, died a faster, quieter death than in years past. Sent to the state house committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs — a Democratic “kill committee” — in January, the bill’s fate was a foregone conclusion. While the political tumult over the bill […]

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Nicolais: A police department’s pattern of unconstitutional conduct

Mario Nicolais
In 164 pages, the U.S. Department of Justice eviscerated the Chicago Police Department. After a year-long investigation, the DOJ found the CPD “engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of force.” The detailed report details a systematic failure, not only in the CPD, but the entire city government for its failure to oversee […]

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Nicolais: Dylann Roof, absolutists and the death penalty

Mario Nicolais
Dylann Roof is set to die. A federal jury recently sentenced the unapologetic mass-murderer to the death penalty. More than any other individual, his case brings the contrast between political positions on capital punishment to a head. Roof’s sentence draws a clear distinction between pure death penalty opponents and anyone who struggles with the issue. […]

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Nicolais: A history of hate crimes

Mario Nicolais
Shocking video showing four black youths torturing a disabled, white captive spread across the internet and media outlets recently. Almost immediately, some politicians and members of the media began calling for hate crime charges. No policy conflicts me as much as hate crimes. The rationales for adopting hate crime legislation are powerful and moving. Yet, […]

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Nicolais: In 2017, Legislature’s judiciary committees are in good hands

Mario Nicolais
For the Colorado Legislature, the new year means new bills and new issues to tackle under the gold dome. In one of the legislative chambers, the state Senate, this new season in state politics will also mean plenty of new faces as well. Even before the session convenes on Jan. 11, the judiciary committees will […]

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Nicolais: North Carolina to skew checks and balances? Does it even matter?

Mario Nicolais
The political drama unfolding in North Carolina recently trumped even the transition of the new president-elect for many political junkies. An acrimonious gubernatorial election between incumbent Republican Patrick McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper led to a nearly month-long standoff as Cooper won with a razor-thin margin. Now that acrimony has spilled into sweeping new laws […]

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Nicolais: Death sentence gone awry

Mario Nicolais
Every law school student loves to argue. Most see shadows of Gregory Peck or Spencer Tracy in their mirrors. And, in my law school experience, nothing brought about an argument as fast and as fierce as the death penalty. Stakes cannot be greater or an outcome more final. I even remember former Illinois Gov. George […]

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Nicolais: Colorado bail reform leading the way

Mario Nicolais
Years ago I defended a pro bono client against battery and disorderly conduct charges. He worked a blue-collar construction job, tried hard to take care of his children, and had a lengthy, but distant criminal record. When we went in for his arraignment, the prosecutor offered to drop the battery charge in exchange for a […]

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Nicolais: GOP draws royal flush, payout might come from Colorado

Mario Nicolais
Earlier this year, I compared the Republican Supreme Court challenge to playing poker. With President Obama nominating Merrick Garland for the vacant seat left after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the GOP-controlled Senate refused to hold hearings, much less a vote. Republicans were betting on a winning back the Oval Office and maintaining control […]

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Nicolais: ‘Making a Murderer’ tragedy drags on

Mario Nicolais
If you binge watched the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” — hopefully after reading my column! — then you must be familiar with the host of tragedies inundating the show. The recent saga of Brendan Dassey, one the individuals at the center of the story, demonstrates how these tragedies can drag on for years and […]

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