Rogue Aspen cabbie’s lawyer plays nonprofit card | AspenTimes.com

Rogue Aspen cabbie’s lawyer plays nonprofit card

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – In addition to rogue cabbie, count “driver for charity” among the many titles one could apply to Phil Sullivan.

Rob Couhig Jr. – the New Orleans attorney who has taken up Sullivan’s defense against state prosecution as a pro-bono mission – filed a motion in Pitkin County District Court on Friday to rescind, amend or clarify a 2010 court order barring the Woody Creek resident from taking money for rides.

Couhig cites what he interprets as the intent of Colorado’s Legislature to promote low-cost transportation as a way of helping charities and people in need. His motion further suggests that Sullivan, 75, will provide transportation services through a nonprofit whose mission will be to assist other charities and riders who earn meager incomes.

Sullivan said it hasn’t been determined whether he would run the charity, as its director, or merely be its employee.

“That decision hasn’t been made yet,” Sullivan said. “This is an alternative. They think it will work. I’m going to be thinking a lot about it.”

Last Thursday, Judge Gail Nichols set Jan. 20 as the sentencing date for Sullivan’s latest violation of her order. That’s also the date in which the judge would likely rule on Couhig’s motion, which specifically asks the court to allow Sullivan to continue the practice of taking gratuity for rides under the understanding that Sullivan will be driving for charitable purposes.

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In March, he served a week in county jail after Nichols found him guilty of the first violation of the June 2010 order. On Thursday, Nichols found Sullivan guilty of a second violation, which occurred on June 17 when he gave an undercover Public Utilities Commission agent a $20 ride to a local hotel.

Sullivan, who does not have a license to operate a taxi, said he’s willing to follow his new attorney’s advice. He provides rides around Aspen.

Couhig, who primarily practices law from his downtown New Orleans offices, is a well-known business and political figure in Louisiana. He decided to take up Sullivan’s cause at the urging of mutual friends. He is licensed to practice law in Colorado, and regularly vacations in Aspen.

“I still can’t get over the fact that the court says I can’t give people a free ride home,” Sullivan said. “But about the nonprofit … I will think about it.”

asalvail@aspentimes.com