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Robbins: 27 years of columns

I have been writing this column for 27 years. Not this precise column, mind you, but this series that began running in December 1995. Oh my!

In the early years, I called the column “Staying Out of Trouble,” but then I realized how preachy that might sound and so I changed it. At some point too — maybe after two or three years — I wrote the column twice a week. If I recall correctly, that lasted about four years. At times — the Kobe Bryant case comes to mind — I wrote as often as required to explain the legal goings-on, whether that was two, three, or even four times a week.

In all these years — absent some editorial necessity when the column space was needed — I don’t believe I’ve missed a single column. I’m sorta like the U.S. Postal Service: neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night … or at least how the Postal Service used to be. When a vacation’s looming, or a trial, or something else that might get in the way, I plan ahead. I dig in so, even in my absence, the columns are not interrupted. 



One of the greatest compliments I have ever been paid about the column was years ago, from long-time “Vail Daily” Grand Poobah, Scott Miller, who told me that I was “as regular as the tides” which stiffened me with pride. Whether I am good or not, I am, at least reliable. Not that I’m a huge fan, but wasn’t it Woody Allen who famously once said that 80% of success was just showing up?

Over these many years, by my ciphering, about a million-and-a-half words have flowered in this column. If words were money, in this wealthy valley I would barely be invited into polite society. I have written about matters of the law both quotidian and exotic, from what makes a contract to the law of breasts, from criminal insanity to liquor licensing, to why Santa is a scofflaw. I have penned columns about the Make My Day Law, the Voting Rights Act, presidential misconduct, equity and justice, the Second Amendment, why judges dress in black, the Socratic method of teaching law, a client who wanted me to bribe a band of marauding Martians, and the right to privacy. 

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Of all the columns — stacking up to somewhere around 2,000 — the most comments that I ever received were over my column about common law marriage. Seems odd, no?

What I said was this: Even if you were married under common law, if you want to get divorced, you have to do so via a formal legal process. In other words, common law or ceremonially married, when the helium of love has leaked from the knot in the balloon, you’ve got to process through the courts.

My phone rang off the hook.



“Look man,” the caller — always male — began, “back in the day Vail Resorts gave your girlfriend a lift pass if you said that you were married.”

“Did you sign anything that said that you were married?”

“Yeah but … see, it was just the lift pass …”

“Hmmm.”

“But see, we’re not together anymore and now I’m married. I mean really married. I’ve got a kid, and … Am I still married to my girlfriend, I mean the one that I wasn’t really married to?

It went like this most of the day. And then the next.

Second-most is any time I write about the Second Amendment or any case law touching on it. No matter how anodyne the column, I am a communist to some, an AOC liberal to others, a troglodyte to some, and to another cadre, just plain dull, dimwitted, or unenlightened. One thing I have learned is that to protect the fiefdom of their thoughts, folks can cast on you whatever light best serves them. That, however, is what free speech — which I have written about as well — is founded on. Welcome to the Constitution! What is fascinating, though, is that the same column and the thoughts ensconced within it can make me in the readers’ eyes a leftie or a rightie depending, I suppose, on which way they tilt.

I really don’t have a plan as to how long I will keep this up. You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men. And, after all, it’s not entirely up to me. Such as I may have stayed in the good graces of the owners, publishers, and editors these many years, there are no guarantees.

Nonetheless …

My strategy is to keep this up as long you as you, the readers, will have me. Let’s see what else we can cook up in this inexhaustible subject of the law.

A writer without a reader is like the proverbial tree falling in the forest when no one’s listening. 

So, thanks.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices Of Counsel in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Caplan & Earnest, LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody, and divorce, and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address at Rrobbins@CELaw.com. His novels, “How to Raise a Shark (an apocryphal tale),” “The Stone Minder’s Daughter,” and “Why I Walk so Slow” are currently available at fine booksellers.


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