Judge ends contempt case against sheriff over leaks


An El Paso County judge on Wednesday opted not to go forward with a contempt of court citation against Sheriff Bill Elder over leaks to the media in the wake of the Club Q mass shooting.

District Court Judge Robin Chittum found that while it was clear someone violated the court’s order to maintain secrecy around records about a prior criminal case against the mass shooting suspect, it was not clear who violated that order.

“Does it appear to the court that there has been contempt? Yes,” she said during a hearing Wednesday morning. “Somebody talked, somebody disclosed documents, somebody said something.

“But, the important second part of this inquiry was: Is it this respondent? Is it the El Paso County Sheriff’s office that committed this contempt? Do the allegations in the verified motion rise to the level of giving me enough information to say yes? And I can’t find that it does.”

Anderson Aldrich, 22, has been charged with killing five people and wounding several others in the Nov. 19 mass shooting at Club Q, a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub.

More than a year before, in June 2021, Aldrich had been arrested for threatening family members during an incident in which Aldrich vowed to become “the next mass killer.”

The 2021 criminal case against Aldrich eventually was dismissed after the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s office could not serve subpoenas to Aldrich’s family — key witnesses — to come to court and testify. Aldrich asked that the court records in the dropped case be sealed, or made secret, as is allowed under Colorado law, and Chittum did so in August 2022.

The details of the case were still secret immediately after the Club Q mass shooting, but a Colorado Springs TV station obtained copies of the documents. The Associated Press then verified them as authentic, citing an unnamed “law enforcement official.”

Aldrich’s public defenders sought a contempt of court citation against the sheriff’s office, arguing that a member of that office leaked the records or confirmed their authenticity. Under state law, officials are not allowed to discuss or even confirm the existence of a sealed criminal case.


Source link