Off Limits

Blues gaveler: Denver juvenile court judge David E. Ramirez didn't go quietly when he announced his retirement last week. In fact, Ramirez, long controversial for his alleged coddling of hardcore juvenile offenders, sent out a press release trumpeting the earthshaking fact that he would be stepping down on September 1. The release, approved by Ramirez and printed on the letterhead of the Solis advertising and public-relations firm, heralded Ramirez as one of the great American justices of all time, a veritable Judge Wapner on a par with the nation's great bench-warmers. According to the document, Ramirez is an "extremely caring, conscientious and compassionate judge." He "always goes out of his way to show respect to the people in his courtroom." He is "known nationwide for his presentations on juvenile law issues." He has "held numerous leadership positions." And guess what? He plans to "continue his career-long dedication to children and families" by "pursuing the area of mediation, education and juvenile and family law consultation."

Might that mean "Hang 'em Low" Ramirez is angling for a job in the private sector even though his degenerative arthritis has qualified him for a state disability pension? Could be--but at least taxpayers didn't pick up the tab for the love note announcing his departure (and possible availability for hire). Instead, the missive was a freebie thrown the judge's way by old pal and ad-agency boss Frank Solis, who sources say considered it a favor to a friend. Funny, though, how the firm's otherwise encyclopedic summation of Ramirez's career managed to miss one of his most notable accomplishments: being named one of "America's Worst Judges" by Reader's Digest in 1996 for, among other flashes of judicial brilliance, giving probation to a kid who helped drag a fourteen-year-old girl to a field, where his buddy shot her to death.

He is risen: James Dobson, chief of the biggest Christian-broadcasting empire in the world, emerged from his Focus on the Family bunker in Colorado Springs to make an unprecedented appearance last Sunday before a national audience. Dobson, who loathes the secular media, was a guest on NBC's Meet the Press, sparked no doubt by the publicity from his threat to pull his religious-right soldiers out of the Republican Party unless the GOP shapes up on such issues as abortion and homosexuality. Host Tim Russert lobbed only softballs at Dobson but perked up when Jimmy boy speculated that President Bill Clinton suffers from a "sexual addiction."

Russert might have immediately pressed Dobson about another matter involving sexual addiction: In recent years, Dobson, a trained psychologist, has given strong support to Colin Cook, a self-proclaimed rescuer of homosexuals who was once booted out of the Seventh-Day Adventist camp for having sexual contact with the men he was supposed to be "helping." One of Cook's counseling methods--after he'd moved to Colorado and supposedly mended his ways--was to give pelvis-grinding ten-minute hugs to young men seeking to escape the horror of man-to-man contact. Another was to advise a client to kneel naked by his bed and say, "Jesus, I would like to suck a penis right now." Focus and its political arm, the Rocky Mountain Family Council, promoted Cook's seminars on the evils of homosexuality, as did Dobson allies Will Perkins and Kevin Tebedo of Colorado for Family Values. After Cook's counseling techniques were publicized in 1995, Tebedo stood firm behind Cook, but Focus backed off its endorsement.

As for Dobson's own addiction--to power--he was circumspect on Meet the Press, and Russert didn't press him. Dobson's nonprofit organization, which rakes in more than $100 million annually, is supposed to steer clear of partisan politics to maintain its tax-exempt status. But several years ago Dobson told his troops that he was splitting off the D.C.-based Family Research Council, headed by Gary Bauer, to take care of the overt politicking. Now Bauer is an influential lobbyist on Capitol Hill and is even being mentioned as a GOP presidential candidate.

Imagine Dobson sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom. On second thought, don't.

Don't talk dirty to me: In part thanks to the presence of Dobson and other straight-edge dudes, the constitutional scholars who run the show in Colorado Springs have passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of "indecent language" in any city park. Sound just slightly at odds with the free-speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment? The American Civil Liberties Union thinks so and has written a letter to Colorado Springs police chief Lorne Kramer asking the Central Scrutinizer to tell his officers to stop issuing summonses under the law. Among the cases cited by the ACLU in its letter: that of Richard Bogan, who got written up for twice saying "bullshit" while on park grounds. The first time, Bogan used the epithet to describe an officer's actions in giving him a ticket for littering. The second time, he used it to describe the law under which the cop proceeded to give him a second ticket for cussing. Here, for your prurient pleasure, are other actual snippets from police reports included in the ACLU's letter:

* "Subject was warned and then continued to curse."
* "Subject heard saying, 'This is fucking bullshit' in a city park."
* "Repeatedly used the words 'fuck' and 'shit' in Acacia Park."
* "Continuous profanity in park."
* "Subject used the work 'fuck' after being warned not to swear."
Curses! Foiled again.

Take that! As the peripheral legal actions spinning off from the JonBenet Ramsey murder continue to expand at a rate roughly equivalent to that of the universe, add the plight of former Boulder Daily Camera reporter Allison Krupski to the list. Krupski's the heretofore-unknown 23-year-old journalist who left the Camera last December after working as its lead reporter on the Ramsey mystery and took her notes, files and records about the case with her--only to have the newspaper sue her for theft. A judge later ruled that Krupski wasn't a thief but ordered her to turn over photocopies of the documents, which she did. After that, the Camera backed down--sort of--asking the judge for permission to dismiss its suit "without prejudice." But since suits dismissed without prejudice can be refiled at any time, Krupski was having none of it. According to her attorney, William Meyer, "she's very concerned about the statements made about her and the impact that's had on her life, professionally and personally." In other words, Krupski didn't appreciate being called a thief--and asked the judge to force the Camera to keep suing her until she could have her day in court. The judge has since ruled in Krupski's favor, denying the Camera's motion to dismiss, and the reporter has amended her answer to the original complaint, asking for permission to assert a number of counterclaims against the newspaper, including defamation, abuse of process and outrageous conduct. The case is now set for trial in December, and discovery and depositions are already under way. Meanwhile, says Meyer, his client's looking for work--and he "has no information" on whether Krupski may try to leverage a book deal out of her JonBenet collection.

The pub's the thing: Now that the local media's standing ovation for the Denver Center Theatre Company, awarded the Special Tony Award for Regional Theatre this past Monday, has finally ended, perhaps it's time to go out to the lobby, gulp down some fresh air and put the thing in perspective. Yes, it's peachy that the DCTC won--and the local troupe, widely recognized for its high-quality productions and stand-out actors like Tony Church, is hardly undeserving. But before locals get too puffed up over the idea that "Broadway" has reached out and anointed Denver as the nation's best (to quote an especially giddy Denver Post headline), keep in mind that most of the American Theatre Critics Association members who vote operate far from the glitter of the Great White Way and likely have never seen a DCTC production--and that the ATCA has a convention scheduled in Denver for later this month. But, hey, all the world's a stage.


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