Judge to review county’s 2015 executive session

3

A recording of an executive session that occurred in September 2015 will receive an in-camera inspection because of a complaint that was filed by a local resident.

The order for the in-camera inspection was signed on Jan. 3 by 6th Judicial District Court Judge Greg Lyman.

The complaint was originally filed by Archuleta County resident Greg Giehl and his attorney, Matt Roane, regarding an executive session recording that took place Sept. 22, 2015.

The executive session, held by the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), pertained to the resignation of County Attorney Todd Starr.

The complaint was filed against Archuleta County Clerk and Recorder June Madrid because she did not release the recording of the executive session to Giehl and Roane when they requested it.

The complaint was filed on Dec.15, 2015.

In January of 2016, the BoCC voted to defend Madrid in the case, and authorized the legal firm Rose, Walker, Starr LLP (who holds the county’s legal services contract, and a firm in which Starr is a partner) to represent Madrid in her defense.

The complaint argues that, for various reasons, the executive session wasn’t conducted correctly and therefore deserved to be public knowledge.

The complaint alleges the following reasons:

• That the agenda documentation could have been more descriptive regarding the executive session instead of just listing “personnel matters.”

• That the BoCC discussed other topics in the executive session, instead of only discussing the “personnel matters” stated on the agenda.

• That the BoCC reached a decision while in executive session.

Giehl and Roane filed two different motions, one for summary judgment and one for an order to show cause.

The motion for summary judgment was granted, while the motion for the order to show cause was denied.

“Plaintiff has alleged in his Amended Complaint that a public information request was submitted by him on December 3, 2015, seeking a copy of the Executive Session recording from September 22, 2015, and that Defendant denied that request,” reads the order for summary judgment handed down by Lyman.

The order goes on to state that, from a review of the record before the court, there’s sufficient grounds to “support a reasonable belief” that the BoCC engaged in discussion of matters not enumerated in state statute, “and/or that the same Board of County Commissioners adopted a proposed position or formal action in the Executive Session…”

“Defendant (sic) seeks by his Amended Complaint, among other things, an in camera inspection of the executive session recording pursuant to … This request is hereby Granted,” reads the order. “Defendant shall tender to the Court within 15 days of this order the Executive Session recording from September 22, 2015, for in camera review.”

Giehl and Starr were unavailable for comment by presstime on Wednesday.

With Lyman retiring effective Jan. 10, the in-camera review will be conducted by Judge Jeffrey R. Wilson, who will become the chief judge following Lyman’s retirement.