Mark Silverstein, who has spent the last 31 years working as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, announced his retirement last week.

After about five years of working at the ACLU in California, Silverstein was named the Colorado ACLU’s legal director, a position he held for 26 years. Silverstein plans to stay until his replacement is found.


Director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project David Fathi states in a news release, “Mark has long been known as one of the most effective lawyers in the ACLU. He’s everything you could ever want in a colleague: smart, collaborative, hardworking, and fiercely dedicated to the clients we serve. We are deeply grateful for all that he’s done to defend the rights of incarcerated people, and of all people, over the course of his long and distinguished career.”

Some of the most significant cases Silverstein was involved with as legal director were:

Cisneros V. Elder, which is a class-action lawsuit against El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder for refusing to release prisoners, who posted bond, when ordered to by the federal immigration authorities.

La Rue V. Douglas County School District, which challenged the Douglas County School District for trying to funnel taxpayer funds to private religious schools, which is against the state constitution.

American Civil Liberties Union V. City and County of Denver, which defended the rights of protesters during the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Aragon V. Raemisch (Hepatitis C Litigation) and Cunningham V Birch (Hepatitis C Treatment Restrictions), which obtained antiviral medication for people with Hepatitis C.

Death of Kamyar Samimi the ACLU sued GEO Immigration Detention Center for the death of Kamyar Samimi, who was a Legal Permanent Resident.

Protesters’ Rights . The ACLU challenged police enforcement officers for violating the first amendment’s right to participate in protests. This is the first trial in the nation for people who were injured by police during the George Floyd protests back in the summer of 2020.

Silverstein stated, in a news release, “Working as an ACLU lawyer and Legal Director is one of the very best jobs an attorney could have. It has been a privilege and a lucky break for me to get to spend so many years working in an organization filled with so many dedicated civil libertarians and alongside some of the most talented lawyers in Colorado and in the country.”

Silverstein’s accomplishments and career were also lauded by the ACLU Colorado Executive Director Deborah Richardson: “The ACLU of Colorado would not exist as it does today without Mark’s unwavering commitment to civil liberties and the fight for justice for the past 26 years, we are so grateful Mark has agreed to continue on in an emeritus status, to continue to provide inspiration and counsel to the organization.” 

The ACLU takes legal cases about racial profiling, illegal searches, groundless arrests, police beatings, arbitrary deprivations of liberty, and more. It also fights for free expression, government transparency, religious freedom, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ + rights. The ACLU represents people from all races, religions, and backgrounds or experiences.