Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Colorado’s Judicial Discipline Commission begins investigation into Memo’s misconduct allegations

The Commission of Inquiry into and Disciplining Judges in Colorado has launched its own investigation into allegations of harassment and misconduct in the state’s judiciary.

This is the fourth investigation launched after the Denver Post stories in February uncovered the allegations.

The Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline this week appointed Denver-based law firm Rathod Mohammedbhai as special counsel to look into claims that judges, most of them men, promote a culture of sexual harassment and their allegations. Safe from impersonators.

“We felt we needed to do our own investigation,” William Campbell, the commission’s executive director, told The Post on Friday. “We’re not assuming anything and we don’t know where it leads. As a judicial disciplinary body, we want to see if there’s anything that warrants our participation.

The results of the investigation are confidential by law. Attorney Kusair Mohammadbhai said on Friday he had no additional comment.

The allegations came to light when a high-ranking former Colorado Justice Department official who faced firing threatened a sex-discrimination trial that uncovered misconduct. Former officer Mindy Masius was awarded a $2.5 million contract for judicial training, according to Chris Ryan, the department’s former chief administrator.

The commission made its decision on August 20, according to its website, but only after learning of the Office of Attorney Regulation Council, which disciplines lawyers, began its own investigation and hired outside investigators.

Campbell said the commission considered it important to independently determine whether any alleged misconduct required their attention. The Commission relies on the ARC to provide specialized counsel when investigations are required, but they are required to hire themselves for potential conflicts of interest in the current investigation.

“It’s not that we are worried about anything they will come up with, but we are the Judicial Discipline Commission, we should look into that,” he said.

The commission opted not to request an investigation from the Colorado Attorney General’s office, which it would normally do if the ARC conflicted, because no one else had either.

“We don’t know where this will lead, or there will be additional conflicts down the road and the AG’s office being disqualified,” Campbell said.

Two other inquiries are also ongoing: in August the Supreme Court hired two Denver companies to investigate alleged quid-pro-contract as well as departmental culture; The Colorado Auditor’s Office is investigating allegations of fraud involving the Masias contract.

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The commission’s investigation is limited to county or district court judges and extends up to one year after they retire or resign.

The authority of the ARC extends to any licensed attorney, so a retired judge with an active law license is still subject to the ARC’s oversight, no matter how many years he has been removed from the bench.

As The Post reports, the contract at the center of the scandal is a five-year deal worth $2.5 million awarded to Masias in 2019. He was supposed to be fired over financial irregularities, which were exposed a year earlier, but took medical leave before that could happen.

While on leave, a memo written by the department’s then-Human Resources Director Eric Brown was read to then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan “Ben” Coates, describing dozens of incidents of misconduct that were reported to the state’s Court of Appeals. And his Supreme Court said that Massius was prepared to disclose in a trial.

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The memo, which the Supreme Court initially refused to release, alleged that Masias was asked to destroy a letter anonymously alleging sexism and harassment against the Chief Justice and another high-ranking employee ; A settlement agreement was given to a law clerk in the Court of Appeals “according to the Chief Justice” after being accused of harassment to “protect” a jurist during selection to the Supreme Court; That the chief justice “took no action” against a district judge who sent pornography over judicial emails and was later appointed as chief justice in a judicial district.

It also describes how female employees are abused, neglected or terminated at far higher rates than men. Even the chief justice told Macias in a secretly taped meeting that women needed to “dress less like a woman on 17th Street and more like a lawyer to be successful in the department.” Is”.

Masias’ contract was approved by Chief Justice Coates and later canceled after a Denver Post investigation uncovered the arrangement in 2019. The Post revealed the details behind the alleged quid-pro-quo deal in February 2021. The Supreme Court issued the memo following the stories. and launched its own independent investigation.

The governor, the attorney general, and both houses of the Legislature nominated members of a special committee, which later chose the companies that are under investigation.

Colorado's Judicial Discipline Commission begins investigation into Memo's misconduct allegations
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