Appellate Focus

Sean Connelly has argued hundreds of appeals in eleven federal courts of appeals, in the Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado Court of Appeals, and in state appellate courts across the U.S. He has supervised, briefed, and consulted on hundreds of appeals in additional cases.


From 1990-2002 he served as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and Denver. During this time, he was Special Attorney to two Attorney’s General, John Ashcroft and Janet Reno. Sean Connelly was a member of the U.S. Department of Justice trial team and the lead appellate prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing cases, for which he earned the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award, the U.S. Justice Department’s highest honor. In that capacity, he argued and won every key appeal in the Oklahoma City bombing cases, including United States v. McVeigh, 153 F.3d 1166 (10th Cir. 1998); United States v. Nichols, 169 F.3d 1255 (10th Cir. 1999); and United States v. Fortier, 180 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 1999).

From 2002 until his judicial appointment in 2008, he was a partner in the Denver firm Reilly Pozner & Connelly where he successfully represented Pat Bowlen’s appeal to maintain ownership rights of the Denver Broncos professional football team. He served as a Judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals from 2008 to 2011.

In 2018, he opened Connelly Law with the goal to continue to present the most relevant cases before appeals courts and make a lasting impact on Colorado.


  • Denver, Bet the Company Litigation “Lawyer of the Year,” The Best Lawyers in America (2024)
  • Litigation: Appellate, Chambers USA (2013 – present)
  • Top Ten Colorado Super Lawyers (2017-2018, 2020-present)
  • Top 100 Colorado Super Lawyers (2014 – 2015, 2020-present)
  • Colorado Super Lawyers (2006-present)
  • Top Denver Lawyers, Appellate Law Practice, 5280 Magazine (2015 – present)
  • Bet-the-Company Litigation, Best Lawyers in America (2018 – present)
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar, Best Lawyers in America (2012 – present)
  • Appellate Practice, Best Lawyers in America (2007 – present)
  • Barrister’s Best People’s Choice “Best Appellate Law Lawyer,” Law Week Colorado (2020)
  • Denver Appellate Practice “Lawyer of the Year”, Best Lawyers in America (2013, 2019)
  • Team of the Year Award, Colorado Lawyers Committee (2019)
  • Case of the Year Award, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association (2018)
  • Appellate Practice, Benchmark Litigation (2019)
  • General Commercial, Benchmark Litigation (2019)
  • White Collar Crime, Benchmark Litigation (2019)
  • State Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation (2015)
  • Individual/Task Force of the Year Award, Colorado Lawyers Committee (2015)
  • Award of Special Recognition, Colorado Lawyers Committee (2013)
  • Legal Leader in Appellate Law Award, The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel Magazine (2013)
  • 10th Circuit Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation (2013)
  • Community Contribution Award, Colorado Lawyers Committee (2007)
  • Individual of the Year Award, Colorado Lawyers Committee (2007)
  • Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, U.S. Department of Justice (1998)
  • American Jurisprudence Awards, Catholic University Law School (1983)
  • Faculty Award: Highest-Ranking Law Student, Catholic University Law School (1983)