Law of the West |

Law of the West

This week’s column marks my return to the pages of the Fence Post. I began writing in 2001 and these last three months have marked a needed pause to recharge. During the last three months, I have been on a sabbatical of sorts ” changing employers, doing work on the farm, and working on my dissertation. These first three months of 2008 have been extraordinary. If you will allow me a few lines, I would just like to bring you up to date and at the same time thank the crew at the Fence Post for allowing me a well-needed respite.

Last December, I decided to leave my employment with a defense contractor and seek out employment with a law firm. My hope was to find a firm with which I could develop a practice that was to be focused on small business, government contracting, and, of course, a little agriculture on the side. In that pursuit I was successful.

I have since joined the firm of Holland and Hart, a Denver based regional law firm with offices throughout our region and in DC. My office is in Colorado Springs. For those who have known me for a number of years, you also know this fulfills a long held aspiration of joining what I have always considered to be the preeminent law firm in the Intermountain West.

But, that wasn’t to be the only dream fulfilled these last few months. As those of you who have read this column over the years will recall, I have been working toward a Master’s degree in Buddhist Studies from the University of Sunderland, a college in the United Kingdom. Well, I completed all my course work and being a European degree program, a dissertation is required. My topic, being that I am a member of the National Guard, concerns the basis in Buddhist philosophy for a “just war” theory. When is a government justified in using violence to achieve its objectives?

In January, I was fortunate enough to travel to India to interview Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa, or prime minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile. I met him in his offices in Dharamsala and had nearly an hour to discuss the role of violence in the practice of non-violence. He had recently published a book of dialogues on topics including the philosophy of non-violence and “truth insistence.” It was a remarkable journey and an extraordinary conversation. But, the trip also had within it some disappointment. I had hoped to also interview His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be, as he went into retreat about the same time I arrived in Dharamsala.

Yet, the extraordinary became the unbelievable when last month I was informed that if I returned to India I would have a private audience with the Dalai Lama. Needless to say, 17 hours of an air flight later, I was in New Delhi. There, during the last week of March, I was afforded the privilege of conducting a 50-minute interview with His Holiness on the topic of the role that violence may play in the practice of non-violence. If the visit with Samdhong Rinpoche was extraordinary, to spend nearly an hour with the Dali Lama was absolutely unforgettable. Coming at the height of the current turmoil in Tibet, the interview was especially poignant and timely.

Needless to say, it has been an overwhelming few months for a simple country lawyer from Wyoming.

All that said, I am back on the Colorado Plains, practicing law, writing my columns, working with my horses, and writing the dissertation. Fresh and revitalized, I look forward to trying to answer your questions about the Law in our Intermountain West.

Picking topics to write about is always a challenge. And, it is there I need your help. If you have a question about the law or a suggestion for a legal topic to be addressed in one of these brief pieces, please take a moment and forward it on to the Fence Post. You can send your questions, addressed to me, to

The information provided in this column is based upon general principles of law and should not be relied upon in any manner. It is not the intent of this column, its author, publisher or the Fence Post to provide legal advice to any person. You should address specific legal questions to your family lawyer. In Wyoming, the State Bar can refer you to competent lawyers in your community by calling (307) 634-7823. In Colorado, call the Metropolitan Lawyer Referral Service at (303) 831-8000. Readers in Nebraska can receive referrals from the State Bar Association by calling 1-800-742-3005.


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