There are occasionally scholarship opportunities for our lawyers from outside programs. When these opportunities arise, the State Training Director and State Public Defender select recipients from those who are interested in a particular program.

Terri Brake Scholarship Fund

The Terri Brake Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 2002 to serve as a memorial to an inspirational trial attorney and a phenomenal woman, Terri Brake. Terri began her distinguished legal career as a Colorado Deputy State Public Defender in the Pueblo Regional Office. She went on to become the Office Head of the Public Defender’s Appellate Division and also litigated cases in the Arapahoe County Public Defender Office, before leaving the Public Defender system to work with Larry Pozner in private practice. Terri was appointed a Denver County Court Judge before returning to the Colorado Public Defender System, where she specialized in capital litigation. In September, 2001, Terri “retired” from the System and started her own law practice where she worked on criminal appeals, including a capital appeal, until her death in May 2002.

Terri, along with others, established both the Colorado State Public Defender and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar as leaders in the country against the death penalty. The “Colorado Method” of jury selection is taught on a regular basis at death penalty seminars. Her emasculating cross-examination of Dr. James Grigson, Texas’ “Dr. Death,” in the Frank Orona trial received national acclaim. Terri’s unparalleled work contributed to the prominent reputation that the Colorado Public Defender Office has achieved.

Terri was a unique litigator who excelled at both trial and appellate practice. Her dedication and sacrifice impacted not only the many people who have passed through the Colorado Public Defender System, but also her clients whom she so wholeheartedly served. Her noble concern and empathy for her clients were unsurpassed. Whether winning a life verdict or receiving a death sentence, Terri placed a high value on each of her client’s lives. Terri believed that we all share a common humanity with the accused. She believed in compassion, not hate.

Terri will be cherished by generations of public defenders and private practitioners. She will not be forgotten, nor will all that she believed in.

For those people who have chosen to follow her lead, the Terri Brake Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established. Each year, 2 scholarships of $500 each are awarded to lawyers, investigators, or mitigation specialists/paralegals who are interested in attending capital litigation training seminars.

Questions regarding the application process should be directed to Jeanie Vela, Regional Office Administrator, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Telephone: (303) 620-4999, x1851, or by email to

All applications for this year’s scholarship should be mailed, faxed, or emailed to:

The Terri Brake Memorial Scholarship Fund
ATTN: Jeanie Vela
1560 Broadway #300
Denver, Colorado 80202
Fax: (303) 620-4987