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          "The Orphan of Bagram" is an as yet unpublished novel about an indomitable eleven-year-old orphan girl named Sharina who's owned by a brutal Taliban judge named Azir and an American Army officer who becomes her new father after having Azir arrested and sent to a CIA prison.  The plot thickens when the judge is released at the request of the Afghan government and returns to plan suicide attacks on American facilities.  It draws upon my experience as a USAID legal consultant to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005.   I worked with trial and appellate judges to prepare papers about the actual functioning of the Afghan judicial system; recommended procedural and substantive changes; reviewed drafts of legislation concerning the judiciary; worked with senior judges to prepare draft laws on judicial structure, selection, training, and discipline of judges; and worked with a translation team to insure accurate translations of drafts into Dari from English and of local drafts from Dari into English.  I was privileged to learn about Afghan life and culture from shopkeepers, judges in several different cities and the wonderful Afghans I worked with.


          Sharina's story was inspired by an anonymous little girl I met in the marketplace in Bagram.  I was there with two Afghan men to inspect a courthouse construction project.  As we walked through the marketplace after completing our inspection, I sensed that I was being followed.  I stopped and turned around.  A little girl in a dark red dress and a red headscarf was looking up at me from about two meters away. She looked to be about seven or eight years old, but could have been several years older.  Many Afghan children of that era were small compared to western children because of nutritional deficiencies.  Her face was dirty and her hair was disheveled.  She backed up when I approached her. I turned and walked away.  After about twenty meters I stopped again and looked back.  She was still there, about two meters away.  We continued this way for another forty-five minutes.  I asked the men I was with if they would ask what she wanted.  They refused, saying she was just a common beggar and unworthy of our attention.  When we got back to the car, I got in and looked out the window.  The girl was peering in at me.  My companions were in a hurry to get back to Kabul and again refused to question her.  I got out and handed her some money.  She pushed my hand away and backed up a step.  I got back in the car.  With her right hand on her forehead in a semi-salute, she again peered in the window at me as we drove off.


          That night I dreamed that I returned to Bagram and found her in the marketplace.  I was able to talk with her even though I didn't speak Dari.  She told me her name was Sharina.  She was an orphan living with her uncle.  I negotiated with him for a few minutes and with a cash payment, she was mine. I took her to a judge and paid him to give me custody.  Then I got her a passport.  I woke up just as I was taking her to get an American visa.



          Here's a bit more information about me.  

          I've been a partner in the Denver law firm of Wilcox & Ogden, P.C., since 1979. Among my most important cases is a successful challenge to Colorado's ban on same gender marriages.

          I've authored the "Colorado Appellate Practice Deskbook" (Bradford Publishing Company, 2007) and a chapter ("Ethnic Cleansing and Other War Crimes in Kosovo") in a soon-to-be published book by the American Bar Association entitled, "Building The Rule of Law: Challenges of a Global Thirty-Year Campaign." I've also briefed over two hundred appeals, drafted legislation for the Indiana and Colorado general assemblies, led the team that drafted a citizens initiative to create a system of universal health care in Colorado, and served as a long-time column editor for The Colorado Lawyer. 


          I taught lay public defenders in Cambodia in 1995; served as a long term election monitor there in 1998; interviewed Kosovo refugees to document war crimes in 1999 and spent a month in Kosovo in the summer of 2000; served as a medium-term election monitor in Guyana for the Carter Center in 2001; did humanitarian work in the Inle Lake Region of Myanmar in 2013 and attended a friend's wedding there in 2016; was a guest lecturer to the Department of Neurosurgery at the Peking University People's Hospital in 2013 and 2015; was a guest of the Duhok Directorate General of Health in the Kurdish region of Iraq in 2017, to assist Kurdish physicians with visa issues; was an invited VIP attendee at the World Emerging Industries Summit in Zhengzhou, China, and at the World High-End Manufacturing Summit in Changsha, China, both in 2019; and in March of 2019, I served as a volunteer attorney for Al Otro Lado in Tijuana, Mexico, assisting people seeking asylum in the United States.  I've also assisted with a Rotary International water project in Puerto Rico and made two trips there in 2019 to launch the project. 


           I've served as President and Board Chair of the International Peace Initiatives – United States, and as president of Technology Partnership, two NGOs working in Meru, Kenya. I'm the international committee chair of the Denver Tech Center Rotary club and help review Rotary District 5450 grant applications. I've written four successful Rotary grants for projects in Kenya, one of which won an award for the best water project by a District 5450 club in 2017. 


          My wife and I have hosted Chinese secondary students and U.S. State Department Youth Ambassadors from Chile, Argentina, Iraq, France, Belize, and Nicaragua and remain friends with all of them.  We have a son and grandson in California and two grandchildren on the East Coast.  We also have an adopted daughter from Cambodia that I met there in 1998 and we're foster parents to her brother, who's also living in Denver.  We're stepparents to a Kenyan son and daughter.   I'm also "dad" to a number of youngsters at the International Peace Initiatives children's home in Meru, where I work and visit three times a year. I coached baseball at Denver South High School for fifteen years and until 2018, played adult baseball. I've played in five national championship tournaments and barnstormed through Cuba with the Boston Breakers.  Our daughter and I were part-time commercial beekeepers for eleven years.