Colorado Senators have, compared to other states, moved swiftly to recommend candidates for judicial vacancies. With the announcement that Judge Richard Brooke Jackson was moving to senior status in September 2021, recommendations reached the White House swiftly and the White House chose employment attorney Charlotte Sweeney, who has a decent chance of being confirmed in time to replace Jackson as he comes off the bench.
Sweeney received a B.S. from California Lutheran University in 1991 and a J.D. from the Sturm College of Law in 1995. She then joined LaFond & Clausen P.C. as an attorney, with the firm being renamed LaFond & Sweeney in 1998 when she became a partner.
In 2008, the partnership dissolved and Sweeney has been practicing at Sweeney & Bechtold LLC.
History of the Seat
Sweeney has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. This seat will open when Judge R. Brooke Jackson moves to senior status on September 30, 2021. Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper recommended Sweeney alongside U.S. Magistrate Judge Nina Wang and commercial attorney Kenzo Kawanabe on May 30, 2021. Sweeney was nominated for the vacancy on August 5, 2021.
Sweeney has spent virtually her entire career as an employment attorney, primarily representing plaintiffs alleging violations of Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, and other discrimination statutes.
Among the more notable cases she has handled, Sweeney represented Edward Garcia, a funeral home employee, who alleged that the home discriminated against him based on gender and national origin by promoting a “less-qualified” woman to a manager role that he wanted. See Pueblo, Colo. Funeral Home Worker Settles Reverse-Discrimination Suit, The Pueblo Chieftain, Dec. 31, 1999. She also represented United employee Glenn Cox who claimed that he was fired for being a whistleblower regarding the company’s failure to enforce size restrictions on baggage. See Former United Employee Sues Over Firing, A.P. State & Local Wire, Sept. 15, 2000.
In other matters, Sweeney secured a $64,000 settlement for Boulder Parks & Recreation worker Sally Deitrich, who alleged that she was discriminated against after revealing that she recently married her wife. See Alex Burness, Boulder to Pay $64K Settlement to Lesbian Ex-Employee Who Alleged Discrimination, Colorado Daily, June 24, 2016.
Sweeney, notably, was also a litigant in a suit against former law partner Richard LaFond seeking a portion of a contingent fee arrangement upon dissolution of the partnership. See LaFond v. Sweeney, 343 P.3d 939 (Colo. 2015). The suit made its way to the Colorado Supreme Court, which held that Sweeney was entitled to a portion of the fee recovered. See id. at 941.
Biden’s first nominee to a Colorado vacancy, Regina Rodriguez was confirmed with bipartisan support. While Sweeney may draw more opposition than Rodriguez did, she is still unlikely to draw enough rancor to threaten her nomination and should be confirmed in the fall. Her confirmation would make Sweeney the first openly LGBT federal judge in Colorado.