Jerry Kopel


Lawyers are still plentiful in the Colorado legislature, even though the salary hasn't changed.

When the Fifty-sixth General Assembly opened in January 1987 there were 20 attorneys, one out of every five legislators. In 1997, there are still 20 attorneys in the House and Senate, and five of the 1987 lawyers are still members.

Lawyer-senators in 1987 were Jim Beatty (R), Ralph Cole (R), John Donley (R), Martha Ezzard (R), Brian McCauley (D), Al Meiklejohn (R), Bob Pastore (D), and Jeff Wells (R).

Over in the House, 1987 lawyers were David Bath (R), Chuck Berry (R), Renny Fagan (D), Pat Grant (R), Jerry Kopel (D), Scott McInnis (R), Dick Mutzebaugh (R), Chris Paulson (R), Gil Romero (D), Steve Ruddick (D), Bill Thiebaut (D), and Ruth Wright (D).

The 1997 Senate has seven lawyers: Tom Blickensderfer (R), Mike Feeley (D), Stan Matsunaka (D), Dick Mutzebaugh (R), Ed Perlmutter (D), Bill Thiebaut (D), and Jeff Wells (R).

The 1997 House has 13 attorneys: Barry Arrington (R), Chuck Berry (R), Russ George (R), Ken Gordon (D), Dan Grossman (D), Bill Kaufman (R), Doug Lamborn (R), Gary McPherson (R), Gil Romero (D), Matt Smith (R), Penfield Tate III (D), Jennifer Viega (D), and Tabor Williams (R).

Lawyer-legislators tend to break fairly even on political lines, 12 to 8 in favor of Republicans in 1987, 11 to 9 in 1997. Where they differ from the general legislative population is in leadership positions: House Speaker Berry, Senate Majority Leader Wells, Senate Minority Leader Feeley, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Thiebaut, Assistant House Minority leader Gordon, House Majority Whip Lamborn, House Majority Caucus Chairman McPherson, plus two of the six JBC members, Blickensderfer and Romero.

One major difference from 1987 is in chairmanships of Judiciary. In 1987, attorneys Cole and Bath were in charge. But in 1997, non-attorneys Dorothy Wham and Jeanne Adkins head those committees.

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