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In Memoriam - Dan Hale

In Memoriam - Dan Hale
Posted - May 29, 2015
Dan Hale

We sorely miss our colleague and friend, Dan Hale, who passed away April 12 at his home in Boulder. As a lawyer, Judge and Arbiter Dan profoundly impacted the legal community with his compassion, thoughtfulness, decency and common sense. Through his intuition, sensitivity and unerring good judgment, he taught us all how to be better Mediators, Judges, and lawyers. The JAG family extends its heartfelt sympathy to Kristen and all of Dan’s family. 
Boulder Daily Camera
Dan Hale, former Boulder judge and mentor to many, dies at 70
By Mitchell Byars, Staff Writer
Whether it was in his role as an attorney or as a Boulder District Court judge, Dan Hale was a mentor to so many people he worked with throughout the years he spent in the Colorado legal system.
"If there was ever a question about what the right thing to do in any situation, I would think, 'What would Dan Hale have done?'" said Boulder attorney David Harrison, a former law partner of Hale's. "That sentiment was expressed by so many people that knew him through the years."
The Boulder legal community this week mourned the passing of Hale, who died Sunday at the age of 70 after battling primary sclerosing cholangitis, an autoimmune disease.
Hale was first appointed as a district judge in 1996 by then-Gov. Roy Romer after serving as both a private defense attorney and a prosecutor in the Boulder County District Attorney's Office. He retired from the bench in 2006, the same year he was voted Colorado's "outstanding judicial officer."
After leaving the bench, Hale went to work as a mediator for the Judicial Arbiter Group — a private Denver-based group made up of retired judges who serve as professional mediators for civil cases.
"He was a terrific, thoughtful and compassionate judge and a wonderful human being," Boulder District Chief Judge Maria Berkenkotter said Wednesday. "With his passing there is a tremendous sense of loss here in the 20th Judicial District."
Berkenkotter said she first met Hale in the early 2000s and then was appointed to be a Boulder District Court judge in 2006 while Hale was still on the bench.
"He served as a mentor for many judges here in the 20th Judicial District," Berkenkotter said. "When I was a brand new judge, he made himself available freely. He would talk with you in the morning or late at night."
Harrison said that as a law student, he was a law clerk for Hale while Hale was still a defense attorney, and then eventually went on to work with him as a lawyer for about 13 years.
"Bottom line, he had the most common sense and decency of any lawyer I've known," Harrison said. "He had a breadth of knowledge on the law and an ability to remember cases back before Internet research and would point me and many others in the right direction."
Outside of the courtroom, Hale was an amateur archeologist who went on excavations in southwestern Colorado through the Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Cortez.
Hale was particularly interested in pottery made by the various Pueblo tribes and even cofounded Two Ravens Pottery, an online pottery boutique.
Harrison said Hale also loved being outdoors in Boulder.
"He loved to hike and camp and cross-country ski and spend time with his family," Harrison said. "Although Dan was 70, he died way too young.
"It's a great loss of course for his wife and children and siblings," Harrison said. "But it's also a great loss to the community of Boulder County and the legal community of Colorado in general."