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Committee formed to investigate ethics complaint filed against state senator over judiciary comment – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2021-06-10 22:00:36 –

Denver — A member to investigate ethical complaints against State Senator Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) about comments recorded during the 2019 Senate Judiciary Committee joint session. A society has been formed. ..

Complaints Submitted in April by Chris Forsyth, Executive Director of the Judicial Integrity Project, who accused Gardner of violating Rule 41 of the Senate Regulations.

Rule 41 provides that state legislators comply with the law and perform their duties in a way that promotes public confidence in the integrity and independence of the General Assembly. Senators continue that they should not use their power to overwhelm others.

Hearing in 2019

At the committee’s hearing in 2019, lawmakers listened to a presentation on the performance of the judiciary.

Among them, Kent Wagner, Executive Director of the Judiciary Performance Evaluation Office, said that his team made assessments of state and local judges, changes made to the process, and those assessments in 2018. I talked about the impact on the election.

During the hearing, Wagner aired some concerns about the evaluation of the senior judge. These are judges who have retired but have been asked by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court to fill out temporarily to maintain the operation of the court. Senior judges can hear cases, screen cases, handle unscheduled docks, and more.

Wagner cannot predict when these judges will work and what cases they will hear from the committee, making it difficult to make an accurate assessment, and these judges are similar to substitute teachers. Said.

He also said that the office was unable to obtain good investigation data from judges and sources for effective evaluation, so he recommended that court managers take over the role of evaluation. ..

Wagner called for legislative changes to exclude senior judges from the evaluation process, but offered to assist court managers as much as possible.

Suspicious comment

When Wagner made this recommendation, Gardner expressed concern about the idea of ​​excluding senior judges from the office’s evaluation and disagreed with the idea of ​​burdening court managers.

Then he talked about his experience with the court administrator.

“About five or six years ago, a colleague I shared an office with came to me and said I was appearing in front of a senior judge. The senior judge said this. And she showed me the writing record and said, “And I don’t know what to do, but I understand that you are in the legislature.” Well, I was able to call the state court administrator, but if my colleague hadn’t shared office space with members of the House Judiciary Committee, she faced a move to avoid it. Let’s do it, “Gardner said.

He went on to say that he really wanted the office to consider how the senior judge’s evaluation would work, and that they needed to be accountable to the general public.

Forsyth believes that Gardner’s story raised a very different question about the impact of elected civil servants on the judiciary.

“He alluded to hiring another judge for a colleague’s proceedings simply by calling the state court administrator,” Forsythe said. “No one should be able to call or hire another judge for the case. The system that makes it possible is not worth having.”

Forsyth argues that this ethical complaint is not a political issue, but a larger issue of the entire judicial system.

“For me, it’s a pretty obvious entry. Still, the fact that it hasn’t been revealed so far shows that we have ethical issues in the legislature and the judiciary. Wasn’t thinking about it, “said Forsythe. “It’s not a judicial system where everyone has justice. Justice is for those who are connected and wealthy.”

At the time, Forsyth posted comments on social media, but refused to file ethical complaints. He says he didn’t think it was appropriate until more.

Besides

Earlier this year, The Denver Post A series of research reports It revealed sexual harassment, sexism, and a motion in return to silence witnesses. Inside the Colorado Supreme Court..

During the annual Judicial address status, Chief Justice of Japan Asked for an independent investigation He said he was involved in the alleged illegal activity and requested the governor, attorney general, and legislative leaders to form a panel to draft a request for proposal to define the scope of the investigation.

A request for proposal has been submitted for potential researchers. The process has recently ended and the Commission now determines who will investigate the claim. Gardner is a member of the committee that selects investigators.

“So he admitted that he was using a state court administrator to help his friend get a judge in the case, and is he now supposed to investigate the judiciary? I’m already frowned upon, “said Forsythe.

Beyond that, Gardner sponsored a bill for this legislative assembly dealing with senior judges, changing the time they could serve and the salaries they received.

It adds an additional contract period of 10, 20 or 30 days per year that retired judges can work.

Forsyth believes this is another conflict of interest. Because the bill passed and signed by the Governor effectively gives the Chief Justice more power.

“The bill looks harmless and is fraudulent. We need more judges, so let’s put a senior judge in the case. The problem is that the senior judge is not accountable to people. Does not receive a judicial performance assessment and senior judges are not randomly assigned, “he said.

He believed that the combination of bills, state judicial investigations, and Gardner’s comments was sufficient to deserve an ethical investigation.He April complaints. It requires Gardner to be removed from the judiciary and perhaps expelled from the Senate.

However, until Wednesday, the day after the legislative session ended, a letter sent by Senator Leroy Garcia to the Secretary of the State Legislature was obtained by Denver7.

In it, Garcia admits that she has received the complaint, and if at least two of the three Senate leaders conclude that the complaint is worthless or does not prove an ethical breach. He said he was rejected.

“But this conclusion was not reached by a majority of Senate leaders,” the letter continued.

Therefore, Garcia announced in a letter that she had formed a five-member ethics committee to investigate the complaint.

Garcia has appointed Senators Julie Gonzalez, Pete Lee, and Faith Winter to the committee. Minority leader Senator Chris Holbert, R-Douglas County, has appointed Senators Paul Randeen and John Cook.

It is currently in the preliminary investigation stage.

“I think this is the first time I’ve received a complaint with a new grievance as a result of my 2018 revisit. I’ll revisit how to handle the complaint,” Holbert said. ..

How does it work?

According to Senate Rule 43, a complained member may request a hearing within 7 days of receiving a notice of the complaint, and the hearing may be within 14 days of the Senate Chair receiving the request. Must start with.

However, if the complaining member does not request a hearing, there is no specific schedule for when the investigation should begin.

At the hearing, the Commission can take testimony under an oath and issue a subpoena. You can also hire a lawyer and an investigator.

Members who disagree with the complaint have the opportunity to appear, be represented by a lawyer, present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

After the hearing, the Commission can decide whether to dismiss the complaint or encourage lawmakers to take action. Actions range from reprimands to criticisms, expulsions, and referrals to authorities.

“I am grateful for how President Garcia has dealt with it so far. If the Commission can get advice on this, I believe they can resolve this very quickly. I think there is, “Holbert said.

However, Holbert was unable to elaborate on the complaint due to confidentiality.

Forsyth says he was disappointed that Garcia had waited until the end of the session to deal with the complaint and placed a dark cloud over House Building 1136.

He is not optimistic when anything comes out of the complaint and is likely to be rejected because some members of the investigative committee also belong to the judicial committee and co-sponsor the bill. I think.

Forsyth I sent a letter to Garcia on Thursday He believes they also have conflicts of interest and asks them to be replaced.

For now, it is up to the Commission and the Senate Chair to decide how to proceed with the investigation.



Committee formed to investigate ethics complaint filed against state senator over judiciary comment Source link Committee formed to investigate ethics complaint filed against state senator over judiciary comment

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