Alumni

Ginger (Sunday) Evans grew up here in Springfield, CO. She was instrumental in the construction of DIA and has gone on to become an expert in the field of aviation. She was part of the team of airport/aviation leaders that met with President Trump last week to talk about regulation reform and infrastructure needs of the airline industry. She is impressive. Congrats! Ginger Sunday Evans, you make your home town proud.

Ginger (Sunday) Evans



Porter sworn in as county judge

Judge replaces Judge Larry Stutler

By Chris Frost

Ledger General Manager

POSTED:   07/18/2016 04:26:57 PM MDT

Judge Curtis Porter get a round of applause from the attendees at his swearing in ceremony, July 1.
Judge Curtis Porter get a round of applause from the attendees at his swearing in ceremony, July 1. (Chris Frost / Lamar Ledger)

Newly appointed county court judge Curtis Lane Porter was sworn in at the Prowers County Courthouse, Friday, July 1.

The new judge was sworn in by Judge Stanley Brinkley, who told the group in attendance there is always a smooth transition.

"In other countries it's not always that way," he said.

He said the nominating commission for the 15th district did a great job and sent the governor two great names who will be good judges.

"Judge Porter is going to make a great judge," he said. "That's how our system works."

He noted that Judge Porter is 33 years old.

"I think you should take pictures of him today," Brinkley said. "Then we'll take pictures of him in 20 years."

(left to right) Judges Curtis Porter Stanley Brinkley and Michael Davidson at Judge Porter’s swearing in ceremony, July 1.
(left to right) Judges Curtis Porter Stanley Brinkley and Michael Davidson at Judge Porter's swearing in ceremony, July 1. (Chris Frost / Lamar Ledger)

He said Judge Larry Stutler looked like a kid when he was sworn in.

Brinkley said the county court judge has a difficult job.

"It's probably more difficult than the district court," he said. "In the county court it's a free for all at times."

He said many times the litigants at the court act pro se (without a lawyer) and people don't understand what the issues are.

"They can be pretty complex," he said. "A judge has to resolve those without much help."

Judge Michael Davidson said that Judge Porter worked with him as a prosecutor and worked against him as a defense attorney.

"I've had the privilege of having him as a prosecutor in my courtroom," he said. "In addition to having a good working knowledge of the law, he (Judge Porter) has a very good understanding of when to be compassionate, when to be hard against people and when to give people a second chance."

He said that's an important attribute.

"A lot of times the county court will have good people that made a mistake," he said. "Judge Porter will recognize that."

Judge Porter told the attendees at the swearing in that he has been practicing in the courtroom for the last seven years and has never been so nervous.

"I am really excited about this opportunity," he said.

He thanked Retiring Judge Larry Stutler for his 21 years of service and for what he did for him as Judge Stutler's court was his primary court for the first couple of years he worked and said he had a calming influence in the courtroom.

"It seemed like everyone was comfortable and over the years admired the way he conducted his court," he said. "I think practicing in front of him all these years did a lot to show me how to conduct a court. If I can be a fraction of what Judge Stutler has been then I'll be doing a really good job."

Stutler said Judge Porter needs to be himself.

"I've known Judge Porter for a long time as he mentioned this morning, both as an attorney, district attorney and through his family I knew him," he said. "As long as he trusts his instincts, both in the law and personally I think he'll do an excellent job."

District Attorney Jennifer Swanson hired Porter in 2009 and she said she's known the new judge since he was a six-year-old.

"He was a family friend for a long time so it was a no brainer when he graduated from law school to snatch him up," she said. "I knew he would fit well here because he grew up here."

Swanson said Judge Porter has a good heart and a lot of common sense.

"You need both of those to be a good judge," she said. "I'm looking forward to him telling me to sit down and shut up."

Porter said he couldn't adequately say what his parents mean to him.

"I grew up watching my dad in court and that's what made me want to do this," he said. "I can't put into words the support they've given to me over the years."

In comments after the ceremony, Judge Porter's mom, Stella Porter, said she was a little nervous helping Judge Porter put on his robe.

"I was honored to do it," she said. "I am very proud of him."

His dad Attorney Larry Porter said his son is an intelligent young man.

"He'll be a fine judge and I told him to just go for it," he said.

Porter said he is excited, but nervous, to get on the bench.

"I am very familiar with the court and the cases that are handled and I am prepared to go right in," he said.

He said his court will be fair.

"I will be fair to all the parties and understand that some people make mistakes," he said. "That doesn't make them a bad person it means they made a mistake."

He will miss the people he worked with as an attorney.

"That's going to be the most difficult part," he said. "I was a district attorney for 7 years."

Bitner '14 Receives Skadden Fellowship to Fight for Education Rights of Homeless Children

For her Skadden Fellowship, third-year law student Robyn Bitner will work at Advocates for Children of New York and will focus on the education rights of homeless children under the age of 5 in New York City.

Third-year University of Virginia law student Robyn Bitner has been selected to receive a Skadden Fellowship, one of the nation's most prestigious public service fellowships available to young attorneys. "I am not sure if it's possible to be more excited than I am," she said. "On some level, I still can't believe it happened."

The Skadden Fellowship Program was established in 1988 by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to support graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor, the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights.

As part of the two-year fellowship, which provides a salary and benefits, Bitner will work at Advocates for Children of New York and will focus on the education rights of homeless children under the age of 5 in New York City.

"These children have a legal right to access special education services to address developmental delays and to attend public preschool programs," she said. "However, most of these children are not receiving services or attending preschool. I will provide direct legal representation to homeless families to ensure that their children have access to high-quality early childhood education."

Advocates for Children of New York is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting every child's right to an education, focusing on students from low-income backgrounds who are struggling in school or experiencing school discrimination.
Bitner, who taught early elementary school in the South Bronx as a member of Teach for America before law school, said education has always been critically important to her.

"While teaching kindergarten and first grade in the South Bronx, I was reminded every day of the power of education to build hope and resiliency," she said. "I also recognized how critical it was for my students to receive academic intervention as early as possible to address any deficits and catch up with their peers."

During her time at UVA Law, Bitner took nearly every course that addressed education law and children's rights, most notably including the Child Advocacy Clinic. In the clinic, which is offered in conjunction with the Legal Aid Justice Center, law students help low-income children across Virginia who need legal representation.

"Having the opportunity to work during my 2L year on school discipline, special education and juvenile justice issues was crucial to building my own knowledge and experience," Bitner said. "In addition, it made it easier to get my foot in the door at potential host organizations during the fellowship process."

After her first year in law school, Bitner worked in the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Denver. The following summer, she worked at the nonprofit Education Law Center in Philadelphia.

"When I arrived at law school, I knew that I wanted to spend my career protecting low-income students' access to education," she said. "I never imagined that my fellowship project would allow me to do so in the area of early childhood education, which has been identified as the most effective way to close the achievement gap and has the added bonus of being an area of education about which I am incredibly passionate."

Bitner said she is "undoubtedly very lucky" to be receiving the fellowship and is thankful for the support of her family, mentors and friends.


Tech graduate student to research organic cotton with $125K grant.


Former Springfield High School graduate, Ryan Gregory receives $125,000 Seed Matters grant to continue organic-cotton research.

                                                                                   Picture by Josie Musico

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