Colorado Ethics Watch finally pays Clear The Bench Colorado for frivolous, groundless, and vexatious complaint
The wheels of justice grind slooooooooowly…
After almost three years (and after exhaustion of all appeals) since first winning the judgment against “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) for CEW’s “frivolous, groundless, and vexatious” campaign finance complaint against Clear The Bench Colorado (back in July 2010), as spelled out by court order in December 2010, CEW has finally paid what they have owed us for years.
Clear The Bench Colorado‘s victory against CEW, winning an award of attorney’s fees, is only the second time that CEW (with a near decade-long history of conducting harassing legal attacks) has been forced to pay. It is rare (indeed, almost unheard of – though not totally unprecedented) for attorney’s fees to be awarded to the defendant in this type of case, as Face The State had pointed out in an earlier article (“Judicial-reform group lashes back at ‘frivolous, groundless’ complaint“):
Attorneys fees are awarded sparingly by Colorado judges, largely because those requesting the sanction must prove opposing counsel pursued legal action knowing they had little chance of prevailing or failed to do basic research before filing.
The award indicates that the judge not only thought that CEW’s case (or “complaint”) was bad – he thought it was SO bad that he took the unusual step of slapping CEW with the bill (which, as noted, runs into the ‘tens of thousands’).
The ’Order Awarding Attorney Fees and Costs‘ confirmed the complete lack of legal merit in CEW’s original complaint against Clear The Bench Colorado:
Because CEW’s claim was not supported by the undisputed evidence or by the plain language of the law, the ALJ found CEW’s complaint substantially groundless and frivolous. The ALJ therefore granted CTBC’s request for attorney fees and costs…
Confirmation of the award of legal fees and costs - and more importantly, confirmation of the “frivolous, groundless, and vexatious” nature of CEW’s original complaint – comes as both victory and vindication for Clear The Bench Colorado. As noted previously by CTBC and knowledgeable observers of the legal and political scenes, the award of legal fees to the defendant is an extreme rarity.
CEW’s attacks against Clear The Bench Colorado fit an ongoing pattern of politically motivated “ethics” complaints designed to distract, disorient, and sling mud in the (vain) hope that something might stick. Ultimately, they don’t care if they win or lose the case (their lopsided loss-win ratio bears this out), since their priorities are (1) smear, (2) frame the media debate and gain attention, (3) divert resources and attention, (4) intimidate, and (5) maybe (if they get lucky) occasionally win a case. As many publications noted at the time, CEW’s attack was just another cheap political stunt. Even the Secretary of State’s office called CEW Director Toro’s statements “disingenuous” (which is a polite way of saying, ‘lying through your teeth’).
Groups like CEW – with the massive amounts of funding they receive from their parent organization (Washington, DC based CREW) and from local leftist funders Tim Gill, Pat Stryker, Jared Polis, and Rutt Bridges right here in Colorado, can continue to draw upon deep reservoirs of cash in support of attacks and legal harassment of their ideological foes – abusing the legal system as a political weapon.
Unless and until meaningful sanctions against such abuse of the legal system as a political weapon are implemented and consistently enforced, citizens engaging in civic activity (along with political campaigns at all levels) can expect to continue to be subject to these kinds of harassing attacks.
Clear The Bench Colorado‘s victory against the unethical ‘Colorado Ethics Watch’ – holding them accountable for their abuse of the legal system – is one small step in the direction of restoring some measure of sanity (and accountability) to the courts.
Once in a while – the Underdog wins.
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.