River of Challenges

Denver lawyer pulls water rights lawsuit after warning of sanctions

The Colorado River isn’t a person — at least not for now.

The Denver attorney who filed a lawsuit calling for legal personhood of the Colorado River has withdrawn the suit following a warning from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office that it would seek reimbursement of legal costs for defending the suit and filed to dismiss on the grounds that it was frivolous and unlawful, citing sovereign immunity.

Jason Flores-Williams said he withdrew the lawsuit to avoid jeopardizing the rest of his practice with a drawn-out battle over potential sanctions, though he maintained he brought Colorado River Ecosystem v. State of Colorado on solid legal footing.

Although Colorado River Ecosystem v. State of Colorado is the first federal case of its kind in the U.S., Supreme Court Justice William Douglas famously authored a dissenting opinion in Sierra Club v. Morton that trees should have legal personhood.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the December 11, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.