Investigations into Colorado’s court system cleared to go ahead

The Colorado Judicial Department has cleared the way for a pair of independent investigations to go forward into allegations of judicial misconduct and a cover-up at the highest levels of the state’s court system, nearly 10 months after The Denver Post first reported the scandal.

State officials finalized contracts for investigations by a pair of Denver law firms on Oct. 12 and Monday, according to a news release.

“Investigations into both matters will begin immediately,” Chief Justice Brian Boatright said. “We expect the process to last several months and will provide timely updates as often as possible.”

One firm, Investigations Law Group, will examine claims of widespread workplace harassment and sexism in the judiciary. Separately, RCT Ltd., led by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, will investigate an allegation that top judicial officials tried to use a $2.5 million contract to keep one former employee from speaking out about some of that misconduct.

That employee, now-former Judicial Department Chief of Staff Mindy Masias, was facing termination for financial irregularities when she threatened to reveal the misconduct by judges and officials in a lawsuit, former State Court Administrator Christopher Ryan alleged earlier this year.

At the time, high-ranking judicial officials — including now-retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan “Ben” Coats — agreed to give Masias a $2.5 million, five-year training contract in order to buy her silence, Ryan claimed. Judicial officials initially denied any wrongdoing, but then vowed to fully investigate.

Masias was prepared to make public allegations of sexual misconduct, including that one judge sent a pornographic email on his work account and that another “rubbed his hairy chest” on a female employee’s back, according to a memo penned in 2018.

This spring, several women who worked in the court system told The Post that Masias’ allegations were indicative of a broader toxic culture for women within the judiciary. In April, the Judicial Department set aside $350,000 to pay for independent investigations.

“With the investigations ready to proceed, this serves as a reminder that the entire Judicial Branch is expected to cooperate with the requests and inquiries made by the investigators,” Boatright said in the news release. “As previously promised, the results of the investigations and recommendations of the investigators will be taken seriously and made public.”

The contracts were announced in August as going to RCT Ltd. and Investigations Law Group, but were not immediately finalized.

Eight bids were submitted to the judicial department to carry out the investigations, according to the news release. The contract with Investigations Law Group was signed Monday, and the contract with RCT Ltd. was signed Oct. 12.

Investigations Law Group is headed by attorney Liz Rita and handled past inquiries into sexual harassment complaints within the Colorado General Assembly, as well as the investigation into allegations against Denver school board member Tay Anderson earlier this year. Troyer’s firm previously investigated allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests in Colorado.

The law firms’ investigations are two of at least six investigations launched this year into the circumstances around the contract. The FBI, Office of the State Auditor, Attorney Regulation Counsel and the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline also have investigations underway.

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