John Suthers

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John Suthers
JohnWSuthers crop.jpg
Mayor of Colorado Springs
Assumed office
June 2, 2015
Preceded by Steve Bach
37th Attorney General of Colorado
In office
January 4, 2005 – January 11, 2015
Governor Bill Owens
Bill Ritter
John Hickenlooper
Preceded by Ken Salazar
Succeeded by Cynthia Coffman
Personal details
Born (1951-10-18) October 18, 1951 (age 63)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Janet Suthers
Alma mater University of Notre Dame
University of Colorado, Boulder
Religion Roman Catholicism

John William Suthers (born October 18, 1951) is the current Mayor-elect of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the former Attorney General of Colorado. He is a member of the Republican Party.


Suthers was born in Denver, Colorado and adopted a month later by William and Marguerite Suthers, a Colorado Springs couple. His father died when Suthers was 15, and his mother died when he was 22.

He attended St. Mary's High School in Colorado Springs, and the University of Notre Dame, from which he graduated magna cum laud with a degree in government in 1974. Suthers graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1977. He attended college and law school on academic scholarships.

Professional career[edit]

From 1977 to 1981, Suthers served as a deputy and chief deputy district attorney in Colorado Springs. From 1979 to 1981, he headed the Economic Crime Division of the district attorney’s office and co-authored a book on consumer fraud and white-collar crime. During his time as a prosecutor at the local level, he tried cases ranging from drunken driving to first degree murder and from shoplifting to securities fraud.

In 1981, Suthers became a litigation partner in the Colorado Springs law firm of Sparks Dix, P.C. He remained with the firm until 1988, at which time he defeated an incumbent[1] to become the elected district attorney of the Fourth Judicial District. He served as president of the Colorado District Attorneys Council in 1994-1995.[2] At the conclusion of his second term, Suthers returned to Sparks Dix in 1997 as senior counsel in charge of the firm’s litigation section.

He then ran for Attorney General in 1998 and lost 47.4% to 50% [3] to Ken Salazar.

In 1999, Suthers was appointed executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections by Governor Bill Owens. In that capacity he managed a department of 6,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $500 million.[4] In August 2001, Suthers was appointed by President George W. Bush as United States Attorney for the District of Colorado. He was unanimously confirmed by the United State Senate and assumed the position the week before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.[5] During his tenure as U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, the office prosecuted several high-profile white collar cases, including cases against executives of Qwest.[6]

Suthers serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver School of Law[7] and as a scholar in residence at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.[8] He also has held several bar association leadership positions, including president of the El Paso County Bar Association and senior vice president of the Colorado Bar Association.[2] He served as Colorado Commissioner on the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws from 1993 to 1997.[2]

Attorney General[edit]

Following the election of Ken Salazar to the United States Senate, John Suthers was nominated by Governor Owens and confirmed by the State Senate as the 37th Attorney General of Colorado in January 2005. Suthers served the remaining two years of Salazar's term before running for reelection in 2006. In November 2006, Suthers won election to the Attorney General's Office, defeating challenger Fern O'Brien by nine points. During the same election cycle, the Republican candidate for Governor, Bob Beauprez, lost 56–40.[9]

Despite being courted in 2008 and 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate, Suthers chose to run for re-election. Suthers defeated his Democratic opponent in 2010 election by a 14-point margin[10] – the largest margin of victory in a two-way race in Colorado that year. In both 2006 and 2010, Suthers received the endorsement of virtually every major newspaper in Colorado.[11][12] including The Denver Post, which called him a “tireless public servant.”[13]

Suthers has served on the executive committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) since 2007.[14] He chaired the NAAG Criminal Law Committee from 2005 to 2007 and has been a member of the U.S. Attorney General’s Executive Working Group on Prosecution since 2005.[2]

In June 2012, Suthers was awarded the Kelley-Wyman Award by the National Association of Attorneys General. It is the highest award given by the Association and is presented annually to the Attorney General who has done the most to advance the interests of the Association.

In January 2013, Suthers became the second longest-serving attorney general in Colorado history. Only Duke Dunbar, who served 22 years from 1951-1973, had a longer tenure as Colorado Attorney General.

Criminal Prosecution[edit]

During his tenure as attorney general, Suthers secured additional resources from the state legislature and placed increased emphasis on white-collar crime prosecution. The Office's Financial Crimes Unit prosecutes some of the largest and most complex investment-fraud cases in the state. The Special Prosecution's Unit has pursued complex drug cases, child sex trafficking and other cases of statewide import. The unit has also assisted district attorneys in murder prosecutions throughout Colorado, particularly in rural areas.

The Attorney General's Office launched the Colorado Justice Review Project (JRP) the goal of which is to identify cases in which DNA testing could potentially exonerate a wrongfully-accused convicted inmate. The JRP began its review by screening nearly 5,000 cases statewide of inmates incarcerated on murder, sexual assault, or non-negligent manslaughter convictions. More than 3,800 cases were screened by staff. That project led to the exoneration of Robert Dewey who had spent 17 years incarcerated for a rape and murder he did not commit.

Natural Resources[edit]

Shortly after taking office, Suthers moved to swiftly resolve a series of longstanding natural-resource damages lawsuits, including disputes concerning natural resource damages at the California Gulch, Rocky Flats [15] and Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund sites. Two of the settlements were the largest natural resource damages settlements in Colorado history. The quarter-century-old claim for damages at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund settled in May 2008 for $35 million, which will be used for the restoration of the site and natural resources in and around the northeast Denver metro area site.[16] Suthers also oversaw a $20.5 million settlement, finalized in July 2008, to help remediate environmental damages at the California Gulch Superfund site, located near Leadville.[17]

Suthers’ natural-resource achievements also include arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court[18] and securing a unanimous decision in favor of Colorado[19] in the longstanding Kansas v. Colorado water litigation. The ruling saved Colorado taxpayers more than $9 million in attorney fees and costs.[19]

U.S.-Mexico Relations[edit]

Working through the Conference of Western Attorneys General with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Mérida Initiative,[20] the Colorado Attorney General’s Office has worked to provide training opportunities for Mexican law enforcement officers and prosecutors as that country transitions[21] to an adversarial justice system.[22] Suthers and his office offered these trainings in 2008,[23] 2009, 2010 and 2012.[24] Suthers served as the chairman of the Conference of Western Attorneys General in 2009 and 2010.[25]

Mortgage Fraud[edit]

Since taking office, Suthers has made the criminal and civil enforcement of Colorado mortgage and foreclosure laws a top priority. Suthers’ efforts range from breaking up criminal enterprises aimed at committing mortgage[26] and lending[27] fraud to suing fraudulent mortgage rescue operations and lenders.[28] Suthers and his office also have given financial support to the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline, which helps homeowners avoid foreclosure.[29]

Suthers efforts also extend beyond Colorado. He has testified before Congress on the foreclosure crisis,[30] led a group of states in pushing to tighten the rules governing loan-servicing companies,[31] and has served on a series of federal mortgage and foreclosure task forces.[32]

Suthers also was one of the state attorneys general who spearheaded a $25 billion national settlement with the country’s five largest national banks, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Ally, who account for 60 percent of the home loan servicing market, to end problematic business practices, including robo-signing and dual-tracking, and to help distressed homeowners.[33] The settlement resulted in more than $204 million in relief for Colorado homeowners.[34]

Internet Safety[edit]

At the time Suthers became Colorado’s 37th Attorney General, the state had no specific crimes concerning the conduct of online sexual predators. Suthers worked with the Colorado General Assembly in 2006 to pass Colorado’s Internet luring and sexual exploitation statutes.[35] In the first fiveyears of implementation, more than 500 alleged pedophiles were arrested on the new charges.[36] Also as part of his efforts, Suthers launched a Safe Surfing Initiative to protect children from online predators.[37]

Legislative Initiatives[edit]

In addition to pursuing legislation to protect children from internet predators, Suthers worked with the Colorado General Assembly to pass Katie's Law (which requires DNA samples for all felon arrestees), to reduce sentences for drug-possession offenders (and place greater emphasis on treatment), and to require mandatory reporting of physical abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly.

Drug Abuse[edit]

Suthers also has been a strong advocate against drug abuse, ranging from his work on statewide prescription drug take-back events[38] to his role as the chairman of the Colorado Meth Task Force.[39] In these roles, Suthers has visited schools[40] and helped roll out awareness campaigns[41] about the dangers of these drugs and the destructive effects they can have on a community. Suthers was also at the forefront of efforts by law enforcement, educators and social workers to oppose the establishment of a marijuana industry in Colorado.[42] In 2012, Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana and the governor established a task force, of which the Attorney General is a member, to develop the rules to implement Amendment 64. Upon passage, Suthers issued a statement saying, "Despite my strongly held belief that the 'legalization' of marijuana on a state level is very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General's Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution."

Individual Mandate Litigation[edit]

Suthers was one of the first state attorneys general to challenge the constitutionality of the individual health insurance mandate included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[43] Suthers served on the executive committee that oversaw the states’ case[44] and attended the U.S. Supreme Court arguments on the law in March 2012.[45]

Same-sex Marriage[edit]

Suthers was one of the state attorneys general to sign a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.[46][47] The language of Proposition 8 was virtually identical to that of a Colorado constitutional provision enacted by the voters of the state.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two gay marriage cases. The Colorado Attorney General's Office joined the brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry and did not join the brief defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor.


Suthers and his wife Janet have two adult daughters. Alison is a Deputy District Attorney in Denver. Kate is a procurement analyst for the Defense Department in Pearl Harbor and a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

He has authored six books, including No Higher Calling, No Greater Responsibility: A Prosecutor Makes His Case (Fulcrum Publishing, 2008).


  1. ^ "John W. Suthers biography". 
  2. ^ a b c d "John W. Suthers CV" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Election results for 1998 Colorado Attorney General race" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "Colorado Department of Corrections Statistics Report for the 2000 Fiscal Year" (PDF). 
  5. ^ Gorski, Eric; Burnett, Sara. "Bonds between local law enforcement, Muslims strengthening". Denver Post. 
  6. ^ "Qwest Under Justice Dept. Microscope". Daily News (New York). 
  7. ^ "Faculty Profile: Attorney General John Suthers". 
  8. ^ "State Attorney General to Teach UCCS Course". 
  9. ^ "2006 Election Results". 
  10. ^ "Election results for 2010 Attorney General race". 
  11. ^ "Will newspaper endorsements prove sage?". 
  12. ^ "John Suthers for AG: News". 
  13. ^ "Denver Post editorial: A second term for AG Suthers". 
  14. ^ "Attorney General appointed to NAAG Executive Committee for fifth year in a row". 
  15. ^ "2005 Department of Law Annual Report" (PDF). 
  16. ^ "Colorado Settles Rocky Mountain Arsenal Suit". 
  17. ^ "Attorney General Suthers And Governor Ritter Announce California Gulch Settlement". 
  18. ^ "Oral Argument Recap: Kansas v. Colorado". 
  19. ^ "CWAG Alliance Partnership Backgrounder". 
  20. ^ "Mérida Pillar II: Rule of Law". 
  21. ^ "U.S.-Mexico State Alliance Partnership" (PDF). 
  22. ^ "Suthers Welcomes Mexican Investigators". 
  23. ^ "Mexican Prosecutors To Conclude Training Friday". 
  24. ^ "Attorney General John W. Suthers Elected Chairman Of The Conference Of Western Attorneys General". 
  25. ^ "Attorney General Suthers Announces Mortgage Fraud Indictment". 
  26. ^ "Man convicted in Ponzi scheme". 
  27. ^ "AG’s office gives foreclosure hotline $600,000". 
  28. ^ "First Public Hearing of the FCIC". 
  29. ^ "NAAG Letter Re: Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rulemaking, Rule No. R911003" (PDF). 
  30. ^ "Colorado’s Nationwide Efforts to Keep Borrowers in Their Homes". 
  31. ^ "Administration Announces $25 Billion Mortgage Settlement". 
  32. ^ "Attorney General announces Colorado will receive $204.6 million in foreclosure-relief funds under multistate settlement". 
  33. ^ "Colorado House Bill 06-1011" (PDF). 
  34. ^ "Online Luring Legislation". 
  35. ^ "Safe Surfing Initiative". 
  36. ^ "Drug take back events will occur across the state". 
  37. ^ "" (PDF). 
  38. ^ Burnett, Sara. "Colorado making strides in discouraging meth use". Denver Post. 
  39. ^ "Colorado Meth Project Launches Statewide Meth Prevention Campaign" (PDF). 
  40. ^ "State’s top cop has concerns about medical marijuana". 
  41. ^ "AG weighs in on Lobato case". 
  42. ^ "High court to take up legality of mandate". 
  43. ^ "AG Suthers to attend U.S. Supreme Court health care arguments". 
  44. ^ Sherman, Mark (March 16, 2013). "Supreme Court Gay Marriage Cases Marked By Partisan Split". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  45. ^ Dubofsky, Jean. "Colorado's AG on the wrong side of states' rights Read more: Colorado's AG on the wrong side of states' rights". The Denver Post. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Ken Salazar
Attorney General of Colorado