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Valerie Richardson

Valerie Richardson

Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at

Articles by Valerie Richardson

The trial in New York of lawyer Steven Donziger, who brought natives of the Ecuadorean Amazon to court with him in 1999, reaches a climax this week as he defends himself against charges that he engineered a record-breaking $19 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for contamination of the Amazon rain forest. Ecuador had originally opposed the class-action suit, filed in 1993 on behalf of indigenous Indians and others. (Associated Press)

D.C. firm retreats in Chevron legal battle

In a stunning retreat, high-powered Washington, D.C. firm Patton Boggs agreed Wednesday to pay $15 million to energy giant Chevron and withdraw from its central role in trying to enforce an Ecuadorean court judgment against the oil company that was found to have been obtained through fraud. Published May 7, 2014

FILE - In this May 20, 2013 file photo, graduates pose for photographs during commencement at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. There's still plenty of pomp and circumstance, inspiring words from lofty speakers and tossing tassels, but today's college graduation ceremonies include many a contemporary twist. In 1984, according to some estimates, only half of graduates had debt from college loans, averaging about $2,000. Now, two-thirds of recent bachelor's degree recipients have outstanding student loans, with an average debt of about $27,000, according to a Pew Research Center report. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

University rescinds ban on grads thanking God

Seeking to quell a mounting controversy, East Carolina University officials announced Tuesday that there would be no limits on religious references at its graduation ceremonies after a chemistry professor told his students that they were not allowed to thank God for earning their diplomas. Published May 6, 2014

Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican (Associated Press)

Pro-life Catholics sue over 'abortion fee mandate'

As pro-life Catholics, Barth and Abbie Bracy don't want to pay for health insurance that covers elective abortion, but under the Affordable Care Act, they don't have much choice. Published May 4, 2014

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, said she has requested an independent review of the state's death penalty procedures after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett's execution was halted on after 20 minutes when it became clear something went wrong. He died later that night of a suspected heart attack. (Associated Press)

Oklahoma will review methods after botched execution

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin defended capital punishment Wednesday while calling for an independent review of the state's death-penalty procedures after a botched execution prompted widespread criticism. Published April 30, 2014

With the Colorado state capitol building visible in the background, partygoers dance to live music and smoke pot on the first of two days at the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver, Saturday April 19, 2014. The annual event is the first 420 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in January 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Feds raid Denver pot shop suspected of cartel ties

DIn the first state to make recreational pot legal for sale, federal agents raided a Denver marijuana dispensary early Wednesday suspected of having ties to a Colombia drug cartel. Published April 30, 2014

Surrounded by bill supporters, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs House Bill 60 into law during a signing event Wednesday, April 23, 2013, in Ellijay, Ga. The bill makes several changes to the state's gun law. It allows those with a license to carry to bring a gun into a bar without restriction and into some government buildings that don't have certain security measures. It also allows religious leaders to decide whether it's OK for a person with a carry license to bring a gun into their place of worship. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brant Sanderlin)  MARIETTA DAILY OUT; GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT; LOCAL TV OUT; WXIA-TV OUT; WGCL-TV OUT

Georgia's new carry law a big win for gun rights

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a sweeping right-to-carry bill Wednesday, making his state the latest to give a victory to the gun rights movement in what is emerging as a banner year for advocates of firearms access and self-protection. Published April 23, 2014

National Governor's Association Vice Chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper participates in a special session on jobs in America during the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws

More than a year after pushing through through some of the toughest gun control measures in the country, Colorado Democrats are finding it finding the measures are more unpopular than ever with state residents. Published April 23, 2014

Eastern Connecticut State University.

Professor apologizes after blasting Republicans in class

An English professor who told his students that Republicans want to shut down colleges apologized Tuesday after a recording of the lecture was posted on the conservative website Campus Reform. Published April 23, 2014

A shootout at the Russia-Ukraine border between an unidentified masked man and pro-Russian activists broke a United Nations brokered truce and left at least three dead on Easter Sunday, prompting a small memorial at the scene of the skirmish. (Associated Press Photographs)

Ukraine, Russia trade blame over Easter Sunday shootout

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union, first by annexing Crimea and then by swallowing the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. Published April 20, 2014