Denver Mayor Michael Hancock turned to the private sector and hired Kristin Bronson, a longtime civil litigator and partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, to be the next city attorney.
Bronson will start in October. The office has been vacant since the resignation in May of the previous city attorney, Scott Martinez.
Bronson said she started out in the public sector as a policy advisor in Washington, D.C., and she is excited to return to public service.
“I am familiar with the office and the incredible work that they do,” she said. “I think there have been some challenges with the office, and seeing that, I saw an opportunity to make a difference and look forward to doing that.”
What changes would Bronson make?
“I don’t want to presume to know what needs to be addressed first,” she said. “As soon as I start on Oct. 17, I’m going to get up to speed on all the important and pending issues.”
Bronson has specialized in complicated business litigation and chaired her firm’s real estate industry team. She also worked to bring a more diverse group of attorneys to Lewis Roca as the hiring partner for five years.
“I don’t just do litigation,” she said. “I’m also involved in a lot of advise and counsel, trying to avoid litigation. It involves a lot of collaboration, cooperation, sometimes championing of my client’s interests. I expect those same skills will be used in this job.”
Hancock said there were a lot of qualified applicants for the job. He has known Bronson for many years, but Hancock was struck by Bronson’s “no nonsense” attitude and her eagerness when he discussed the job with her.
Bronson is on the board of the Denver Downtown Inc. and is the chair of the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Economic Development Council. She’s also president of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association and previously served on the Colorado Real Estate Commission.
Martinez stepped down May 31 after a series of controversies that ultimately relate back to how the city handled the Jamal Hunter case.
Hunter was choked and scalded while an inmate in the Denver County Jail. He eventually got a $3.25 million settlement from the city, but his case had far-reaching implications, including changing how the city handles grievances from inmates. It contributed to the resignation of previous Sheriff Gary Wilson.
And it also led to Assistant City Attorney Stuart Shapiro, who opposed the settlement, being placed on paid administrative leave over allegations he withheld evidence and pressured police officers in the case. That paid leave extended over two years, and Shapiro received raises while on paid leave.
The City Attorney’s Office withheld public records in the case, claiming a letter that rescinded Shapiro’s termination did not exist when, in fact, it did.
The mayor’s office has not commented on Martinez’ departure beyond its press release at the time.
“Scott has been a dedicated public servant for our city throughout his time in my administration,” Mayor Hancock said. “He has made this city stronger and better through his thoughtful leadership.”
Deputy City Attorney Cristal DeHerrera has been serving as acting city attorney and will continue to do so through October.