Denver, Secret Service Seek Extension On DNC Lawsuit

    Attorneys for the city of Denver and the U.S. Secret Service agency have filed a motion to extend the time they have to respond to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado over security plans during the Democratic National Convention in August.According to court records filed Wednesday, defendants in the case are requesting five additional days to reply to the ACLU suit, which is seeking information pertaining to where parade routes will be located at the event and procedures connected to demonstration zones adjacent to the Pepsi Center, where the convention will be held.

    The ACLU filed the legal case on behalf of 12 groups on May 1, and District Judge Marcia S. Krieger then put the suit on a “fast track,” requiring the defense to respond by this Friday, May 16.

    Lawyers for the defense argue in the motion that they need more time to prepare for the suit and that they are still in discussions with plaintiffs about the case that are not likely to be completed by the deadline. The same legal motion also notes that the defense’s attorneys have consulted with the ACLU and the plaintiffs and that they do not oppose the extension.

    The city and Secret Service would have until May 23 to reply if the extension is approved by the judge.

    Plaintiffs, which include a variety of state and national activist groups, filed the suit over concerns of First Amendment violations that happened at the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004, where so-called protester “free-speech zones” that consisted of concrete barricades and fencing were build outside the security perimeter of the convention site.

    A Boston judge ruled that the zones were unconstitutional a week before the 2004 convention, but found that there wasn’t enough time to change the preparations. As a result, thousands of protesters were prevented from getting close enough to the official proceedings for conventioneers to hear their message.

    Denver officials have stated that a parade route will be designated during the Aug. 25-28 convention, but they have yet to identify areas where activists will be allowed.

    Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at