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Are court’s Denver Bronco banners a potential conflict of interest?

Posted Jan 27, 2014 8:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Colorado Supreme Court spent $3,200 to show its support for the Denver Broncos, leading at least one legal expert to raise questions about a potential conflict of interest.

The court spent the money on four blue and orange “Go Broncos” banners that are displayed on the front columns of the court building, the Denver Post reports.

The idea for the banners sprung from a party for the court’s retiring chief justice, a Colorado judicial spokesman told the newspaper. The court’s newly appointed chief justice, Nancy Rice, approved the display of the banners, hung right before the team took the AFC championship.

William Brunson, director of special projects at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nev., told the newspaper that the banners could lead to conflict-of-interest questions if the justices were to hear a case involving the Broncos or one of its players.

"Of course the justices want to support anything that beneficially impacts the state,” Brunson said, “but can they be advocates for that? That's the question."

University of Denver business and legal ethics professor Robert Giacalone sees a gray area between endorsing the Broncos as a business and supporting the team. "I cannot imagine that the court system, because they are placing a banner out front, is going to change any of its positions as a result of supporting the Broncos for the Super Bowl," he told the newspaper.

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