Colorado Supreme Court requests outside panel to select independent investigators

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    Colorado Supreme Court

    In advance of Thursday’s biennial State of the Judiciary speech, the Colorado Supreme Court announced Tuesday it has invited the state’s other government branches to select external investigators who will independently examine allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the Judicial Branch, and of claims that a training services contract was awarded improperly to a former senior administrator. 

    Representatives from the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the General Assembly will constitute a panel to select the independent investigators. 

    The independent investigations will result in public reports of all findings and recommendations, including steps for procedural improvement to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency throughout Colorado’s Judicial Branch.

    Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright will comment further on the independent investigation process during the State of the Judiciary speech on Thursday. The court expects to announce the members of the selection panel by the end of the week.

    “We’re disappointed and absolutely heartbroken by this situation, and nobody wants these investigations to go forward more than I do,” said Boatright, who joined the court in 2011 and became chief justice on Jan. 1.

    More immediately, Boatright has directed that he be notified and receive weekly updates on all future misconduct complaints across the department to ensure each incident is fully investigated and acted on as appropriate without delay.

    “The Colorado Judicial Branch has made positive changes over the last few years, but we still have much work to do,” he said. “The people of Colorado deserve a judiciary that they know is being held accountable to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical behavior, regardless of title or position. As chief justice, I am personally committed to restoring this public trust.”

    Earlier this month, allegations emerged that former chief of staff Mindy Masias was awarded a training services contract in order to prevent her from filing a lawsuit revealing incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the department. The contract was later terminated. The situation is part of a broader investigation being conducted by the Colorado Office of the State Auditor.

    “This branch has so many terrific, dedicated people at every level doing incredible work despite the operational crisis that COVID-19 has put on our state’s court system,” said Boatright. “They are shocked and disheartened by these allegations.”

    He added, “My promise to them, and to all of Colorado, is that the Court is going to work equally hard not just to repair our internal culture but to greatly enhance the entire department. We’re going to get this right.”