A total of eight representatives from the legislature, the governor's office and the attorney general's office will select external investigators for an inquiry into the Judicial Department, following revelations of misconduct in the state's court system that went unreported and uninvestigated.
The investigation, the results of which the Colorado Supreme Court has pledged to make public, would also examine a multimillion-dollar contract that the department awarded to a former employee, allegedly in exchange for her silence about incidents of misconduct.
The panel that will hire the investigators includes:
- Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs
- House Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood
- Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County, Speaker Pro tem
- Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs
- Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs
- Jacki Cooper Melmed, chief legal counsel for Gov. Jared Polis
- Kara Veitch, executive director of the Department of Personnel and Administration in the executive branch
- Maritza Dominguez Braswell, deputy attorney general overseeing the Civil Litigation and Employment Law section at the Department of Law
"As a woman in the legal profession," said Tipper, "I was deeply bothered by the reports of misconduct. Almost like grief — feeling enraged and then heartbroken. A full and independent investigation is important here and I look forward to receiving the sincere and robust cooperation of Judicial."
On Thursday, Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright told the General Assembly that he intended to address the harm done to the judicial branch.
"Where there is abuse of power, we will stop it. Where policies are deficient, we will change them. We want to know the truth," he said.
The Denver Post and The Gazette reported in early February that a memo from the Judicial Department documented how Mindy Masias, the former chief of staff for the State Court Administrator's Office, had knowledge of several instances of harassment, sexism and misconduct from judges and others. Then-Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats reportedly authorized a training contract worth up to $2.75 million to Masias to avoid disclosure of those incidents.
Lee, who emphasized that he did not want to "pre-judge" the outcome, said his primary question was: "how does that happen? What are the processes and procedures that allow complaints of pretty egregious conduct not to make it over to the judicial discipline [commission] or performance [commissions] or some body that's legally constituted to look into those things?"