Investigation into Colorado judicial scandal finds unethical behavior, but no contract-for-silence deal

The controversial $2.75 million deal supplied to a previous top rated Colorado Judicial Department formal as she left her occupation was steeped in unethical habits, misconduct and lies — but it wasn’t specially made to keep her from talking out about judges’ misconduct, an unbiased investigation into the judicial scandal found Wednesday.

3 top rated judicial officials “brazenly pursued” the rewarding deal, leveraging a poisonous work natural environment in which they were being beholden to no one particular and the just one human being with authority above them — then-Colorado Supreme Court Main Justice Nathan Coats – was out-of-contact, conveniently manipulated and sick-equipped to manage a branch of government, in accordance to an investigative report released Wednesday and authored by previous U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and previous Denver independent keep track of Nick Mitchell as a result of Troyer’s agency, RCT Ltd.

The trio – then-State Courtroom Administrator Chris Ryan, then-Human Assets Director Eric Brown and then-Chief of Team Mindy Masias – lied to, mislead or intimidated anyone who objected to providing the five-yr agreement to Masias, the investigation identified, and have been ready to do so productively for the reason that of major lapses in management, policies and treatments inside the Colorado Judicial Division.

“There is no way to sugarcoat the not comfortable results of RCT’s investigation,” Colorado Supreme Court Main Justice Brian Boatright explained in a statement Wednesday. “However, with new leadership all through the Point out Court docket Administrator’s Workplace given that these situations, I feel that we have made major development in addressing lots of of the concerns that the report identifies.”

The investigation uncovered that the State Court Administrator’s office environment was so dysfunctional at the time that employees routinely “kept book” on the misconduct of many others – fairly than reporting it to human assets or other authorities – in get to use that facts as leverage if they themselves ever faced self-control on the career.

“Remarkably, this method appeared to perform,” the report notes. “The actions was rewarded, this sort of staff members were normally granted paid go away upon termination, and non-disclosure terms had been inserted into their termination agreements.”

That solution was a single of quite a few methods used by Brown, Masias and Ryan as they sought to convince Coats to give a $2.75 million management training agreement to Masias, a longtime employee who was going through termination more than mishandling funds.

In late 2018 or early 2019, Ryan fulfilled with the main justice, comprehensive previous misconduct by judges and judicial department officers that Masias understood about, and pushed Coats to award Masias the contract, which experienced been in discussion for at least three months prior, according to the report.

Ryan in early 2021 alleged in The Denver Write-up that the deal was provided to quit Masias from publicly revealing judges’ unaddressed misconduct. But investigators uncovered he did not explicitly explain to Coats that Masias was threatening to sue if she was not awarded the deal.

“Brown and Masias had experienced good results with intimidation techniques in the earlier and, as Brown mentioned, Masias was really indignant about how she had been dealt with,” the report reads. “Here, however, they misjudged. Ryan had already certain Coats that the agreement was the appropriate path. And Ryan experienced already confident Coats that Masias was essential to his designs for increasing the (State Court Administrator’s Office). Nevertheless Masias, Brown, and Ryan could have thought it would cement Coats’s acceptance, the ‘dirt’ did not motivate him. We found no credible evidence that Coats’s attitude, perform, or motive was motivated by a wish to disguise the alleged misconduct…The ‘dirt’ lever did not have an effect on Coats as they imagined it would. Coats was misled, and his judgment failed him on other fronts, but he did not approve the agreement to silence Masias.”

Ryan, who refused to communicate with RCT’s investigators, on Wednesday reported the investigation was improperly swayed by the Colorado Judicial Division and accused officers of building a narrative intended to protect the department.

“As demonstrated repeatedly by the actions of the Supreme Court, and the Judicial Branch as a full to restrict the availability of facts to the investigating entities…they will consider whatever motion is required to manage the narrative and protect the black robes,” he reported in a text concept. “While I have terrific respect for Mr. Troyer, I elected not to take part in his investigation since even with a fair vendor, you don’t stand a opportunity in a rigged activity.”

When Ryan did not explicitly body the deal as a quid-professional-quo to Coats — and in simple fact Coats said he would not make any concessions about Masias’s termination no make a difference what “dirt” she had — Ryan and Brown did body the deal as a deal-for-silence in a dialogue with Terri Morrison, the Judicial Department’s legal professional, and warned her “not to converse to anyone else about it,” the investigators found.

“Brown and Ryan explained to Morrison that in order to prevent a lawsuit and stop the public revelation of this ‘dirt,’ the Office required to safe a leadership training deal for Masias,” the report reads. “Morrison objected and was shocked…she was adamant that none of this was a correct explanation to agreement with Masias. Immediately after the assembly, Morrison also instructed Ryan that for numerous explanations Masias’s threat was empty and she did not have a legitimate gender-discrimination assert. Ryan appeared to dismiss Morrison’s information.”

Masias only agreed to resign after Morrison organized for her to fulfill with Coats and Ryan to pitch the education deal. Morrison and quite a few other workers who have been worried about the agreement did not discuss up to Coats or halt the contract from heading to Masias, the investigation located.