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Image by Jon Tyson


Founding Partner

Brian brings more than a decade of criminal defense experience, and fifteen years of civil litigation experience, to Emeson & Zale.  Over the course of his career in criminal defense, he has represented thousands of clients facing the most minor to the most severe criminal charges in the Colorado books.  Brian has taken many cases to trial, and also litigated many contested hearings, including motions hearings and hearings addressing illegal sentences (Colo. Crim. P. 35(a)), reductions in sentences (Colo. Crim. P. 35(b)) and ineffective assistance of counsel (Colo. Crim. P. 35(c)).


Brian has successfully litigated numerous criminal appeals in the Colorado appellate courts, including People v. Russell, 396 P.3d 71 (Colo.App.2014), affirmed in Russell v. People, 387 P.3d 750 (Colo.2017), a groundbreaking case that made it to the Colorado Supreme Court because it was the first case nationally to reverse marijuana convictions for the possession of amounts of marijuana no longer illegal under Colorado law after Colorado legalized marijuana with the passage of Constitutional Amendment 64.  The Russell case garnered significant national attention, and Brian was featured in both the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Other notable published appeals include: Martin v. People, 338 P.3d 1106 (Colo.App.2014) and People v. Desantiago, 409 P.3d 389 (Colo.App.2014).  Other successful appeals include: People v. Walker, (11CA758) and Rodriguez-Ibanez (13CA621).  


While criminal defense has become the focal point of Brian’s practice, he started out litigating civil rights and employment matters, and he brings his vast experience in these areas to Emeson & Zale.  In addition to counseling folks aggrieved by civil rights or workplace violations, Brian has also represented individuals in a range of tort cases (including personal injury cases), and counseled companies in a variety of employment matters and complex commercial/business cases in State and Federal courts across the United States.


Brian grew up in New York City and Chicago. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Michigan, and his Juris Doctor from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri.  In the three years between college and law school, Brian worked as a legal assistant at a large commercial litigation firm based in Detroit, Michigan, spent a ski season living and working in Vail, CO and backpacked for eight months through Southeast Asia, Australia and Western Europe. 


During law school, Brian focused on helping the aggrieved, the underrepresented and the underprivileged by investigating discrimination and employment claims as an extern at the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, through his work on human trafficking and prisoners’ rights at the Kathmandu School of Law in Nepal, by participating in Washington University’s Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic, where he focused on plaintiffs’ employment discrimination cases as an intern for the law firm of Weinhaus, Dobson, Goldberg & Moreland, and working for on medical malpractice and personal injury cases at the Chicago law firm of Hofeld & Schaffner.  Brian also served as an Associate Editor on the Washington University Law Quarterly, made the Dean’s List three times and received awards for earning the highest grade in his class in both National Security Law and Public Interest Lawyering.


When the courthouse is closed, Brian spends most of his time playing and coaching tennis (for Denver East High School), and with his inspiring* wife and daughter (*someone made me write that).

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