By: Suzie Glassman/Newsbreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) When DougCo school board members Mike Peterson, Christy Williams, Becky Myers, and Kaylee Winegar refused to settle a year-long lawsuit claiming they violated Colorado open meetings laws, they indicated they were looking forward to proving themselves not guilty in court.
But, thanks to a recent ruling by Justice Jeffrey K. Holmes, a jury of their peers won’t decide the outcome. Instead, Holmes, who found enough evidence more than a year ago to indicate the board members broke the law, will determine the case.
Holmes granted a motion by the plaintiff, Rep. Robert Marshall (D-Highlands Ranch), to dismiss the defendant’s jury trial request because the board members aren’t entitled to one.
In Colorado, jury trials aren’t an option when the plaintiff isn’t pursuing a legal claim like monetary damages but instead asking the court to start or stop a particular action or event.
Attorneys for the board also failed to pay the required jury fee by the deadline, essentially waiving their right to a jury trial whether they meant to or not.
In a statement to the defendants, Marshall said missing the deadline equates to malpractice by the attorneys and questioned the additional cost to taxpayers to keep litigating the issue.
“The unreasonableness of the defendants in constantly fighting over issues where they have no legitimate basis has escalated costs astronomically,” said Marshall.
“They have even refused to stipulate any facts for trial, which is very unusual and highly unprofessional given that they already stipulated to multiple facts for the preliminary injunction hearing and admitted to multiple facts in answer to the complaint.”
A stipulation is an agreement between attorneys on opposing sides over specific facts in the case they won’t argue. These points often shorten the case and make it simpler.
Marshall is seeking an admission of guilt that the four board members broke the law when they conducted a series of one-on-one meetings before firing former superintendent Corey Wise and payment of $66,000 to cover his legal fees.