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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments in transgender cake case

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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments in transgender cake case


The Colorado Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit against a Christian baker who refused to make a cake celebrating a gender transition, one of three such cases from the state that have pitted LGBTQ+ civil rights against First Amendment rights.

Two cases have centered on baker Jack Phillips, who in 2012 refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. Phillips partially prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in that case in 2018.

Phillips was later sued by Autumn Scardina, a transgender woman, after Phillips and his suburban Denver bakery refused to make a pink cake with blue frosting for her birthday that also celebrated her gender transition.

Scardina, an attorney, said she brought the lawsuit to “challenge the veracity” of Phillips’ statements that he would serve LGBTQ+ customers.

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That case to be argued before the Colorado Supreme Court involves the state’s anti-discrimination law against refusing to provide services based on protected characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation.

The Colorado Court of Appeals previously sided with Scardina, ruling that the cake — on which Scardina did not request any writing — was not a form of speech.

The appeals court noted that Phillips’ shop initially agreed to make the cake but then refused after Scardina explained she was going to use it to celebrate her gender transition, with the blue exterior and pink interior reflecting her male-to-female transition.

“We conclude that creating a pink cake with blue frosting is not inherently expressive and any message or symbolism it provides to an observer would not be attributed to the baker,” read the unanimous ruling by the three-judge appeals court in 2023.

The court also found that the anti-discrimination law did not violate business owners’ right to practice or express their religion.

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Phillips has maintained that the cakes he creates are a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.

Another recent case in Colorado centers on freedom of speech and LGBTQ+ rights. Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado graphic artist who didn’t want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples.

Graphic artist Lorie Smith, who like Phillips is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, challenged the same state law. The court’s conservative majority said forcing her to create websites for same-sex weddings would violate her free speech rights.

Both sides in the dispute over Scardina’s cake order think the new U.S. Supreme Court ruling will bolster their arguments.

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Denver, CO

Defense attorneys accuse Denver DA Beth McCann of misconduct in high-profile murder case

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Defense attorneys accuse Denver DA Beth McCann of misconduct in high-profile murder case


via Denver Channel

Pamela Cabriales

The murder charges against a teenager accused in a high-profile shooting three years ago should be dismissed because Denver District Attorney Beth McCann made inappropriate comments to the news media about the case, defense attorneys argued this week.

Remi Cordova, now 17, was 14 when he was arrested and accused of killing 32-year-old Pamela Cabriales at a red light on West Colfax Avenue on Feb. 20, 2021. Prosecutors allege Cordova opened fire with an AR-15 rifle after a fender bender and killed Cabriales in an attempt to earn status within the Eastside Crips gang.

The man driving the car that night — Neshan Johnson, then 18 — was convicted of second-degree murder in Cabriales’ death and sentenced to 35 years in prison after jurors found he gave the younger Cordova permission to start shooting.

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Cordova was initially charged as a juvenile but McCann later moved his case to adult court. Cordova’s public defenders argued in a Thursday court filing that McCann made several comments to the media that violated her ethical obligations as a prosecutor and a court order limiting pre-trial publicity in the case.

“Ms. McCann’s misconduct is shocking to the universal sense of justice and violates fundamental fairness,” wrote James Zorich, deputy state public defender. “By willfully and intentionally making malicious, inflammatory, improper extrajudicial statements to the media, Ms. McCann disregarded her ethical obligations and violated Mr. Cordova’s constitutional rights, depriving him of the chance of receiving a fair trial by an impartial jury.”

McCann declined to comment through a spokesman Friday.

The state’s professional rules for prosecutors prohibit district attorneys from making “extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused,” but make an exception to that rule for statements that are “necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action.”

Zorich took issue with McCann calling the killing a “cold-blooded murder” and saying she moved the case to adult court in part because of the “absolute brutal savagery of this shooting” during an interview with Fox31 in October 2023. McCann also told members of the media that a person like Cordova should be put in prison for a “long, long time,” the motion reads.

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The motion quotes McCann as saying: “‘Unfortunately, he is capable of killing someone in a very, you know, just cold-blooded way with no indication of remorse or concern or anything of that nature.’”

The motion to dismiss also cites a Denver Post story that relied entirely on information presented in open court during a public jury trial, as well as reporting by 9News, Denver7 and Westword, including a cover illustration Westword later apologized for. The defense attorneys took issue even with stories that did not cite McCann as a source of information and pieces that did not name Cordova.

They called for the case against Cordova to be dismissed as a sanction against McCann’s “outrageous” misconduct. Cordova is set to stand trial in August on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the killing. He is also due in court next week for a motions hearing.

The call for sanctions comes weeks after 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley went through a public disciplinary hearing that centered on comments she made to the media and other members of the public during the since-dropped prosecution of Barry Morphew in the murder of his wife.

The state alleges Stanley’s comments in that case and another were inappropriate and that she violated professional rules for attorneys. Stanley could be disbarred if a disciplinary panel sustains the charges against her. That decision is pending.

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Denver area events for July 19

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Denver area events for July 19


If you have an event taking place in the Denver area, email information to carlotta.olson@gazette.com at least two weeks in advance. All events are listed in the calendar on space availability.

Friday

Music in the Gardens — With Jaiele, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 17th Street Gardens, 1945 17th St., Denver; cpvmd.org/17thstgarden-events.

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Orchard ‘Til Dark — With Local artisan vendors, music, activities and more, 4-8 p.m., The Orchard Town Center, 14697 Delaware St., Westminster; tinyurl.com/23r9xu4m.

Alley Soundscapes Live Music Series — With Dzirae Gold, 5-7 p.m., Dairy Block Alley, 1800 Wazee St., Denver; dairyblock.com/events.

Vampire Weekend — With Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, 7 p.m., Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, $119 and up. Tickets: axs.com.

Meta Sarmiento — Launch concert or his new project: Jungle Rules & Other Poems – A Lyrical Lookbook, 7 p.m., The Savory Denver, 2700 Arapahoe St., Denver, $$20-$45. Tickets: tinyurl.com/525f63pb.

Montana of 300 — With Stevie Stone, 7 p.m., The Roxy Theatre, 2549 Welton St., Denver, $25. Tickets: theroxydenver.com.

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B-Side Music Fridays — With Dogtags and the Milk Blossoms, 7-9 p.m., MCA Denver’ Rooftop Café & Bar, 1485 Delgany St., Denver, $20. Tickets: mcadenver.org.

Niall Horan — 7:30 p.m., Ball Arena, 1000 Chopper Circle, Denver, $37 and up. Tickets: ticketmaster.com.

II Divo — 8 p.m., Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place, Denver, $59 and up. Tickets: ticketmaster.com.

mike. — 8 p.m., Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., Denver, $35. Tickets: axs.com.

Wheeler Walker Jr. — With Dee White, 8 p.m., Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder, $35-$40. Tickets: axs.com.

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Dead on a Sunday — With Deceits, Hex Cassette, 9 p.m., Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, $20-$22. Tickets: axs.com.

Friday-Sunday

Tattoo Arts Festival — 2-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, Colorado Convention, 700 14th St., Center, Denver, $23 and up, free for ages 11 and younger. Tickets: denverconvention.com.

CARLOTTA OLSON, The Denver Gazette



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Jelly Roll and MGK Tease John Denver-Inspired Collab ‘Lonely Road’

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Jelly Roll and MGK Tease John Denver-Inspired Collab ‘Lonely Road’


Machine Gun Kelly and Jelly Roll are set to release a new collaborative single, “Lonely Road,” on July 26.

The duo, who have dubbed themselves “KellyRoll,” teased the track on social media on July 19 with a brief video clip that hints at a John Denver-inspired tune.

“Countdown to KellyRoll activated,” the artists wrote on Instagram. “Thanks to John Denver for paving the way.”

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The teaser features MGK and Jelly Roll in black suits at a funeral, with snippets showing MGK being arrested and Jelly Roll kissing his wife, Bunnie XO. The song’s hook, “Lonely road, take me home. Take me home,” clearly nods to Denver’s iconic “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

The collaboration marks MGK’s first release since revisiting his Hotel Diablo album with a deluxe edition earlier this month. For Jelly Roll, it follows his recent appearance on Eminem’s new album The Death of Slim Shady (Coup De Grâce), where he featured on the emotionally charged track “Somebody Save Me.”

Interestingly, Jelly Roll’s work with Eminem comes amidst the Detroit rapper’s ongoing feud with MGK. Eminem has taken several shots at MGK over the years, including digs on his latest album.

The collaboration between MGK and Jelly Roll isn’t entirely unexpected. The pair previously shared the stage at CMA Fest’s Spotify House in June, performing duets of Jelly Roll’s hit “Need a Favor” and MGK’s “My Ex’s Best Friend.” During that performance, MGK also covered the Chicks’ “There’s Your Trouble,” hinting at a potential foray into country music.

The upcoming collab could signal another shift in musical direction for MGK, who has already transitioned from rap to pop-punk in recent years. For Jelly Roll, the track follows the release of his song “Dead End Road” from the Twisters soundtrack.

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“Lonely Road” is set to drop on July 26 and will be available on all major streaming platforms. You can check out the teaser below.



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