Hollis Whitson

Senior Counsel

Portait by Noli Novak,
editorial illustrator for the Wall Street Journal

Hollis Whitson


  • 1984 Yale Law School, Juris Doctor
  • 1979 University of Redlands, B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Political Science and Communications
  • Bar Admissions: State Colorado, New Mexico
  • Bar Admissions: Federal U.S. District Court (Colorado), Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court


  • Hollis Whitson and Eric Samler, Colorado Bar Association, Annual Update of Criminal Law (editions published annually (2008 - 2016) 2022)
  • H. Whitson and E. Samler, Execution of Youth under Age 21 on the Date of Offense: Ending with a Bang or a Whimper? (2019) (pending publication)
  • Justin F. Marceau and Hollis Whitson, “The Cost of Colorado’s Death Penalty,” 3 U. Denver Crim. Law Review 145 (2013)
  • Hollis Whitson, “Relocation and the Issues of Due Process and Equal Protection,” 1 Diné Be’iina’: A Journal of Navajo Life (Winter 1988)
  • Martha Roberge and Hollis Whitson, “Moving those Indians into the Twentieth Century,” Technology Review (July 1986)
  • Hollis A. Whitson, “A Policy Review of the Federal Government’s Relocation of Navajo Indians Under P.L. 93-531 and P.L. 96-305,” 27 Arizona Law Review 371 (1985)

Hollis Whitson graduated Yale Law School in 1984 and is universally considered to be among the country’s premier appellate advocates in criminal law. She has been Counsel of Record before Colorado’s Court of Appeals and Supreme Court countless times. Hollis has been described as “a smart, fearless and aggressive impact litigator.” She and several other prominent defense attorneys practically went into a lab to discuss how to end the death penalty in Colorado—and ended it in 2020. Hollis is as comfortable walking the legislative halls as she is being peppered with questions from appellate judges. She shares her virtuoso skills as a frequent continuing legal education presenter on all aspects of criminal law.

Driven by an inner sense of justice and fairness to hold the government accountable, she has worked exclusively in federal and state criminal law. Hollis’ vast experience includes stints as a felony trial attorney in the New Mexico state Public Defender Service, as a chief appellate defender, and founder and head of the statewide Mental Health Division. In 2014, she was honored by the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar with its prestigious Jonathan Olom Award as well as the Outstanding Legal Service Award from Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

A mission-focused collaborator who puts cause first, Hollis was part of the trial team that was able to get a 2022 high-profile murder case dismissed days before the jury trial. Despite the fast-paced and stressful nature of that case, she remained dedicated to acting as a catalyst and helming over 200 cutting-edge motions that led to a historic dismissal. Recently, she has been the go-to appellate writer that renown civil rights attorneys turn to when their seven-figure verdicts are challenged on appeal.

Representative Cases:

  • Part of the defense team that filed over 200 motions and forced the prosecution to dismiss its first-degree murder case. Mr. Morphew was falsely accused of murdering his wife, and the judge barred 14 of the government’s experts including experts in DNA, vehicle data, and cell phone data.
  • Part of winning trial team effort in reducing charges of felony sexual assault, carrying potential life imprisonment sentence, to misdemeanor in Douglas County, Colorado. Presented complex toxicology and DNA defenses, filed over 45 motions, and utilized three different mock juries selected by the nationally recognized “DOAR” focus group.