Jeffrey Goldstein (August 17, 1944 – August 28, 2020)—a dedicated and tenacious attorney, civil rights advocate, judge, father, husband, brother, and friend to so many—passed away peacefully following surgery, with his wife and daughters at his side. With the support of dedicated doctors, nurses, and caregivers at Kaiser Permanente and St. Joseph Hospital, he had survived nearly 4 years coping with pancreatic cancer and its side effects.
Jeff was born in San Francisco, the eldest son of University of Southern California (USC) Dentistry Professor Dr. Charles Goldstein and Shirley Spector Goldstein. His grandparents on both sides were Jewish immigrants from Europe at the turn of the 20th century who built successful new lives in America. He grew up in West Los Angeles where he graduated from University High School. His family included two brothers—Jon and Joel, and his sister Judy. In 1966, Jeff graduated from Valley State University (now California State Univ., Northridge), and USC Law School in 1969. After his first marriage and the birth of his two daughters, Janine and Genevieve, the family moved to Denver in the early 1970s, where he resided until his death. Jeff married Marcia Tremmel Goldstein in 1976, and his third daughter Deanna was born in 1978.
Jeff began his law career in Long Beach, CA, where he headed the Legal Aid Society office representing indigent clients. In Denver, he co-founded the law firm of Busacca, Goldstein, Hazleton, and Temko, which served a number of pro bono civil rights and community activist clients. He later co-founded the firm of Karp, Goldstein & Stern, then established his own firm Goldstein & Dodge, which primarily represented injured workers in Colorado’s Workers’ Compensation system. After a few years serving as Special Counsel in the labor law firm of Brauer, Buescher, Goldhammer & Kelman, Jeff left his firm to serve as Administrative Law Judge, and later Chief Judge for the Workers’ Compensation Division, Colorado Department of Labor until his retirement in 2018.
As members of the National Lawyers Guild during the 1970s and 1980s, Goldstein and his partners represented a number of political activists, including members of the American Indian Movement during the Wounded Knee Occupation of 1973, immigration rights activists, organizers in Denver’s Chicano movement, labor organizers, military servicemen who were against the Viet Nam War, and victims of police brutality.
Stemming from this work, Goldstein launched his decades-long representation of the heirs and descendants of the original Hispanic settlers on the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant, established by Mexico in 1844, in what is now Costilla County, CO. As lead attorney in the landmark case known as Lobato v. Taylor, Goldstein filed a class action lawsuit in 1981 against lumber baron and ranch owner Jack Taylor, who in the 1960s had won a federal court case barring local landowners and residents from exercising their historic rights to graze animals, gather firewood, and cut timber for construction of adobe homes on La Sierra—a 77,000 acre mountain tract of land which included 14,000 foot Culebra Peak. Representing class plaintiffs organized by the Land Rights Council in San Luis, CO, Goldstein headed a large team of pro bono lawyers, many recruited by the Colorado Lawyers Committee, who followed the case through dozens of lower district and appellate courts before successfully winning the right to take the case to trial and then restoration of the historic land rights by decisions of the Colorado Supreme Court in 1994, 2002 and 2003. Implementation of those decisions has required further litigation continuing to this day. This epic land rights struggle garnered national and international recognition and has been a tremendous victory for the people of the San Luis Valley. Countless generations of families who will use their land grant rights will be forever grateful to Jeff for leading and winning this classic David versus Goliath battle.
Jeff was a founding member of the Worker’s Compensation Education Association, (WCEA) a claimant lawyer’s organization that advocates and educates for the rights of injured workers in Colorado. Jeff worked tirelessly for legislative and administrative changes to better the plight of injured workers, and was respected by all sides for his depth of knowledge, fierce advocacy, and frequent lectures on worker’s compensation topics.
Community and legal organizations have honored Jeff with a number of special awards for his lifelong pro bono legal work, including from the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, the Colorado Lawyers Committee, the Worker’s Compensation Education Association, and the Land Rights Council. This year, the Denver Bar Association honored Jeff for 50 years of service in the legal profession.
Jeff and Marcia loved traveling the world and camping with friends in their Airstream Bambi trailer. Jeff was also an avid sailor, fly fisherman, scuba diver, and an accomplished photographer. He spent many pleasant days at his mountain log cabin near Bailey, CO enjoying his family and friends, his dog Satchmo, as well as befriending countless birds, squirrels, and mule deer. He looked forward to helping to elect a new President in November.
Jeff is survived by his wife Marcia, three daughters: Janine Aquino (Vince) of Lafayette, CO; Genevieve Moya, M.D. of Thousand Oaks, CA; Deanna Goldstein of Denver; sister Judy Walter of Agoura Hills, CA; and brother Joel Goldstein of La Grande, OR. Four surviving grandchildren include Jade and Equis Moya, Madeline and Alexandra Armour. Preceding him in death were his parents Charles and Shirley Goldstein of Los Angeles, CA and his brother Jon Goldstein of Atascedero, CA.