Colorado’s judiciary is unfairly under attack


No bribery. No payoffs. No cover-up. The headline should be “We were wrong. We’re sorry.”

It’s time to set the record straight.

For a year and a half, the press has attacked the Colorado Supreme Court repeating mere allegations to try to find a scandal.

There were two allegations. One was that a leadership contract was granted to hush former employee Mindy Masias. The second was that there was a secret list of allegations of improper conduct by state court employees, including some judges.

The Court, transparent at every turn, publicly released the document that contained the allegations. It called for independent investigations with investigators to be picked by the legislative and executive branches. The Court promised to make the results of the investigations public, and it did so.

There were separate investigations into each allegation. The first investigation concluded that allegations of hush money were false. The second investigation concluded that while the allegations all contained a grain of truth, the “secret” list, which goes back 20 years, also contained claims that were “unsubstantiated,” “unfounded,” and “misleading.”  As the investigator’s report noted: “many of the allegations leave out important context or misstate facts.”

The independent investigators found nothing criminal or unethical but suggested ways that the Judicial Branch can manage its nearly 4,000 employees so the judiciary can better address and resolve employee issues.

Founded in 1958, the American Board of Trial Advocates consists of state and federal judges and lawyers representing both sides of the civil trial bar – consumers and corporations.  We preserve, protect and defend our Rule of Law so that trust in an independent and impartial judiciary remains the cornerstone of our democracy, free from political or financial influence.

The judicial process in Colorado is safe and fair.  We are disappointed that the press seems to have lost track of that fundamental point.

Our judiciary faces increasingly harsh and unfair attacks. Judges murdered, their families stalked and ambushed, illustrate these extremist actions seeking to intimidate the judiciary.

Our chapter condemns such attacks on our judges and juries, who know that one side or the other will disagree with their decisions. Losing parties have non-violent remedies. Active efforts to bully and intimidate cannot be tolerated.

Civil juries judge facts. Trial judges instruct on what laws apply to that case. Appellate justices decide if the correct law has been provided to guide juries. Rarely thanked, and often scorned, juries remain the backbone of an independent and impartial system of justice.

Politicians and reporters sometimes cherry-pick parts from studies, same as columnists, in order to mock judges and juries. Yet the jurors and judges should be applauded for their objectivity and willingness to make hard decisions based on all the facts, not second-guessed by the gallery.

The raw courage shown quietly every day by our juries and judges cannot be overstated. Our chapter endorses designating one day annually as Jury Appreciation Day to say Thanks.

Remember: without our judiciary, our Rule of Law cannot survive. Without the 7th Amendment and our right to trial by jury, none of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights can be enforced.

Richard Kaudy, president of the Colorado branch of the American Board of Trial Advocates, has served on the board of directors for the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and as president of the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, representing both consumers and insurance companies in civil lawsuits. Tom Overton, vice president of the American Board of Trial Advocates, has been a trial attorney for 40 years. He represents businesses and individuals in all types of civil litigation.

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