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Anthony F. Vollack JD

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Anthony F. Vollack JD Obituary
Anthony Francis Vollack, former Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, died in Denver early Monday, September 28, 2015 at the age of 86, with his loving wife, Imojean, and his two children, Lia and Kirk, at his bedside.
Justice Vollack was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. During his high school years, his family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where he later attended Colorado State University, graduating in 1951 with a B.S. in Economics. He was a squadron commander in the US Air Force, serving from 1951 to 1953.
After his military service, Vollack attended the University of Denver College of Law, graduating in 1956. During law school, he worked for a finance company in the afternoons, was an admissions officer for Denver's Juvenile Hall at night, and was a legal process server for Denver attorneys on weekends.
He was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1956 and maintained a private practice as a trial attorney in Denver and Golden from 1956 to 1977. During those years, he served briefly as a Deputy District Attorney for the First Judicial District and was elected State Senator for two terms, the first in Jefferson County in 1964 and a second term in 1968 for both Jefferson and Adams Counties. During his service in the State Senate, he returned to the University of Denver as a part-time instructor in legislative procedures and bill drafting.
Concerned about the equity of criminal penalties, he successfully introduced legislation to reduce the penalty for first offense possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. He was a prime sponsor of the State's first implied consent law improving law enforcement's ability to deal with drunk drivers and the prime sponsor of the State's first Children's Code for which four years later, he called for a review to examine its effectiveness and address issues concerning solitary confinement of juveniles. Vollack was the prime sponsor of legislation improving efficiency in government and considerable highway safety legislation as well as legislation addressing special education, educational financing and environment concerns, such as the use of persistent pesticides. In his reelection bid in 1968, he was the only Democrat in Jefferson County to win election. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1972.
Nominated through the State's new Merit Selection system, he was appointed by Governor Richard Lamm to the District Court bench in 1977 and to the Supreme Court of Colorado in 1986 where he served as an Associate Justice until 1995 when he was elected Chief Justice by the members of the Court.
Concerned with delay in the courts and the impact of that delay on litigants, he developed a docket management system which effectively reduces judicial backlog and the inequities resulting from such delays. His system, later widely adopted, effectively allowed him to carry the caseload of two judges, except for domestic relations cases. In 1981, he was awarded the Paul C. Reardon Award by the National Center for State Courts for his paper on this system.
While serving as Chief Justice, he focused his attention on making the courts more accessible to the public, improving court services, increasing the role of the Associate Justices in the administration of the court system, maintaining the independence of the Judiciary and improving services to children. He established several committees and commissions to address issues such as cultural diversity, reform of the jury system, Alternative Dispute Resolution and State-Federal Court relations.
To maintain flexibility and improve the efficiency of the Court, he expanded the use of Chief Justice Directives, addressing a wide range of issues, including expansion of uniform hours of service for the trial courts, access of the public to court documents, procedures for court-ordered mental health evaluations in criminal cases, guidelines for determination of indigency and appointment of State-funded counsel in criminal and juvenile cases, computer security, jury service for hearing-impaired individuals, training for court employees in areas such as customer service and sexual harassment, and priorities for probation services, with some services being privatized.
He adopted standards for Guardians Ad Litem and permanency planning for children and worked with the Legislature to establish a more equitable system for securing pay increases for the Judiciary, to provide for a more efficient use of part time county judges and to make a workable system for Alternative Defense Counsel.
Subsequent to his resignation from the State Supreme Court, he joined the Judicial Arbiter Group (JAG) where he served as a mediator or arbiter in legal disputes. He also continued his association with the Colorado Judiciary as a Senior Judge.
During his career, he served as President of the First Judicial District Bar Association, the District Judges' Association, and the Colorado Council of Trial Judges and as chair or a member of numerous bar association, legislative and judicial committees as well as commissions and organizations supporting children. Recognitions of his later work include Distinguished Service by the Jefferson County Commissioners (1986). the Award of Merit from the First Judicial District (1994), Continuing Service to Children by the Division of Youth Corrections, Department of Human Services (1996), Diversity in the Workplace Award by the Pledge to Diversity Law Firm Group (1998), CASA Child Advocate of the Year (1998), Champion for Children Award by the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center (1999), Recognition of his service by the Colorado House of Representatives and the State Senate (1998), the City of Arvada for his community service (1999), and the Colorado Bar Foundation (2005).
In 2004, Justice Vollack, an Arvada resident since 1960, was also honored by the City of Arvada as one of the City's 100 Most Influential citizens in the last 100 years.
He was a man of impeccable integrity and compassion, always affable and ready with a smile. He considered his experience handling adoptions the most enjoyable and rewarding of his career.
A Memorial Service for mid-November will be announced. Friends wishing to make a memorial contribution are asked to consider the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80003 or the Colorado Asian Pacific American Bar Association, c/o Fay M. Matsukage, Dill Dill Carr Stonbroker & Hutchings, P.C., 455 Sherman St., Suite 300, Denver CO 80203.
Published in www.denverpost.com on Oct. 4, 2015
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