Letter from the President

Originally published in the printed bar journal, Communiqué (November 2017).

Brave New World

Tami D. Cowden is Of Counsel with Greenberg Traurig LLP. Tami has more than 20 years’ experience as an appellate attorney with a focus on representations in the Supreme Court of Nevada and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tami serves as President of the CCBA through December 2017. Contact her at cowdent@gtlaw.com.

By Tami D. Cowden, Esq.

When I answered the phone that morning, I heard my mother’s worried voice asking, “Is everything okay there?”

“Yeah,” I replied, taken aback at both the question and her tone. “Why do you ask that?”

“You better look at the news,” she said.

And so, I turned the television on to news coverage of the Columbine High School massacre.
My mother’s call was the first of many I received that day, along with email messages, all from family and friends who knew my husband, our three children, and I lived in Littleton, Colorado. They wanted to know if our kids were safe.

Our kids were safe. As it happens, Columbine High School is not actually in Littleton – in fact, it is not even in the Littleton School District, and so our two high-schoolers attended a different high school. The youngest, a middle-schooler, was away on a field trip in New Mexico. So they were safe from the bullets fired by the two gunmen.

But they were not safe from the aftermath. In the days and weeks that followed, there was constant news coverage, re-playing the scenes caught on video; endless descriptions of the final moments for the thirteen murdered and the terror experienced by the additional 24 who were injured by bullets or in escaping; a few bright spots of heroism; and, of course, the memorials. Then, there started the endless debates about how the tragedy might have been averted, the finger pointing at the killers’ parents and at law enforcement for failing to anticipate such madness, and even the squabbling over the distribution of the charitable funds raised. One moment I particularly remember is discussing with my daughter how to react when faced with someone pointing a gun in her face.

On October 2, 2017, the first call was from my husband’s sister in New York. While he reassured her, I responded to an email from my firm, asking all in the Las Vegas office to check in. Turning to social media, I discovered that Facebook had created a list of all of my friends located in Las Vegas, providing an opportunity for each to reassure others of their safety. I checked in there, as well, and responded to other inquires, all the while growing increasingly numb with horror as details of this deadly attack emerged.

The aftermath continues in much the same way as with Columbine, but on a much grander scale. No doubt other families will have the same sort of discussion about how to react in a shooter situation. But things have changed since Columbine. These days, kids in school go through drills for how to respond to shooters, while the rest of us can sign up for such classes from enterprising sorts who saw a niche and acted to fill it. That is the world we live in.

Note: This page is updated with the release of each edition of the printed bar journal, Communiqué.