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Famed Marijuana Attorney's Comeback as Anti-Pot Tool

A 2020 mug shot of Rob Corry juxtaposed with a 2017 photo taken in his Denver office.
A 2020 mug shot of Rob Corry juxtaposed with a 2017 photo taken in his Denver office.
Johnson City (Iowa) Sheriff's Office/Photo by Michael Roberts
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Attorney Rob Corry was among the authors of Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, and he gained fame statewide for his work on behalf of cannabis defendants, among others. But he's also gotten into a bizarre series of legal scrapes that resulted in him being barred from practicing law in Colorado for a year; he's also involved in ongoing cases stemming from a pair of busts in Iowa last summer.

Corry has laid low since his latest rash of arrests began, but this past weekend, he resurfaced in a surprising way — as the author of a screed against Colorado's legal marijuana system written for the Gazette, which launched an online Mile High arm last fall to the Colorado Springs Gazette, which has long been the most pot-hating major news organization in the state.

"I have re­mained con­sis­tent through the years in ad­vo­cat­ing for le­gal­iza­tion, an end to mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion and an end to crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of mar­i­juana of­fenses," Corry contends in the piece. "What I have changed my mind on — ap­ply­ing cur­rent re­al­ity I was too naïve to an­tic­i­pate 10 years ago — is the wis­dom of a com­mer­cial­ized, for-profit, elitist, gov­ern­ment-pro­tected, priv­i­leged, mo­nop­o­lis­tic in­dus­try that per­pet­u­ates it­self and its ob­scene prof­its, to the detri­ment of the public good and the planet earth."

The Gazette has a history of ignoring journalistic tenets to propagandize against weed. Back in 2015, for instance, the paper didn't mention that a co-author of a four-part marijuana-will-destroy-America jeremiad, Christine Tatum, was a longtime opponent of cannabis legalization who'd stirred controversy by suggesting pot links to events such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the killings at Columbine High School. As a bonus, the articles quoted Dr. Christian Thurstone, one of the area's most prominent physicians against greater access to marijuana by young people — and also Tatum's husband.

The Corry piece, headlined "A Founding Father of Legal Pot Reveals Regrets," and an accompanying editorial, "An Insider Denounces Big Marijuana," follow this example, since neither mention Corry's raft of legal troubles or the current ban against him working as a lawyer in Colorado.

Gazette editor Vince Bzdek hasn't responded to Westword's inquiries about the Corry essay and the related op-ed. But Corry, corresponding via email, defends omitting information that might cast him in a poor light. "My personal life is not relevant nor very interesting to the intelligent public," he writes. "However, full disclosure: I am a sinner and have stumbled on occasion. Then, I picked myself back up, thanks to help from family, friends and God."

The sins to which Corry alludes included two 2020 bond-revocation beefs for which warrants were issued, a date in Denver County Court over a bizarre July 2019 sword fight and alleged violation of a protection order, and two cases out of Iowa, including a misdemeanor domestic-violence arrest on September 5 of last year (which resulted in the mug shot at the top of this post).

And those are hardly the only items on Corry's rap sheet. Here are four more:

• In 1998, Corry was charged in Washington, D.C., with menacing some drinking buddies using a shotgun. For this offense, he served 35 days in jail.

• In 2006, he was accused of sexual assault. In that incident, a female friend with narcolepsy who'd been drinking wound up spending the night at the Arvada residence that Corry shared with his then-wife. The woman subsequently awakened to discover that a naked man was on top of her. She initially thought it was her boyfriend and began performing oral sex on him, only to discover moments later that the person in question was actually Corry, who later blamed his behavior on alcohol. He eventually pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and in January 2007 was sentenced to five years of probation and sixty days in jail. Corry is said to have served 44 days before being released early for good behavior, and he underwent treatment for substance abuse.

• In June 2013, cops nabbed Corry after he allegedly broke the window of a recreational vehicle.

• On September 25, 2013, during the final home game of Colorado Rockies all-star Todd Helton at Coors Field, Corry was among several people seen publicly smoking marijuana. When an officer asked him to hand over his joint, he replied, "No, I don't have to, it's legal." Other quotes attributed to him on the arrest affidavit: "I don't have any ID and don't have to give you shit"; "Oh, fuck off, cop. It's a citation only — public consumption"; "I am going back to my seat and watch the game"; "You're a stupid cop. You are going to make this easy for me. You can't search me. It's a citation only"; and "You can go wherever you want. I am getting my stupid citation for public smoking and going back to the game. You can fuck off and bring me my ticket."

Amid all the turmoil, Corry took on representation of Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, the Houston truck driver accused of causing an enormous crash on Interstate 70 that killed four people in April 2019 — but it didn't prove to be a long-term match. That October, First Judicial District DA Pete Weir filed paperwork questioning Corry's ability to properly defend his client, and in May 2020, Aguilera-Mederos formally obtained a new attorney.

By last fall, the Colorado Supreme Court had finally had enough. An excerpt from a document in the case People v. Robert Corry  reads: "The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ conditional admission of misconduct and suspended Robert J. Corry (attorney registration number 32705) for one year and one day. The suspension took effect November 13, 2020. To be reinstated, Corry must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has been rehabilitated, has complied with disciplinary orders and rules, and is fit to practice law."

In the meantime, a February 2021 Iowa court ruling that dismissed a Corry complaint against the Iowa City Police Department over its decision not to "release records related to a sexual assault case" states that he's scheduled for a pretrial conference in Muscatine County in June. The filing adds: "Mr. Corry also was charged with domestic abuse in Johnson County in September 2020. A protective order in that case is in effect until December 2025."

In his exchange with Westword, Corry didn't respond to questions about current cases. But he confirmed that he's back in Denver (his whereabouts have been unknown for a while) and maintained that he chose the Gazette to share his views with not because of its dedication to demonizing ganja, but "because it is a dynamic leader in the information business for the Rocky Mountain region and the United States, reaching well beyond the City of Denver."

As for the assorted charges pressed against him, Corry concludes: "Failure is a great teacher, and does not disqualify a person from being in the arena. In fact, failure is a prerequisite to true success."

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