Colorado Supreme Court building demolished to “make room” for brand-new $258M judicial complex (the “Mullarkey Monument”?)
“Out with the old, in with the new” - or perhaps more appropriately in this case, “The Queen is dead – Long Live the Queen!”
Sunday’s demolition of the Colorado Supreme Court building to “make room” for a vast, sprawling new “judicial complex” of truly palatial proportions was heralded on the front page of Monday’s Denver Post under the headline “Make Room For Justice!”
Aside from the (admittedly spectacular) pictures accompanying the front-page headline, the Denver Post also ran a story inside (“Denver & The West” section – Colorado judicial building puts on show, disappears). Interestingly enough, although the Post article mentioned the cost of the demolition ($850,000) it completely failed to mention the cost of the replacement “judicial complex” (possibly out of concern for the sensibilities of the Post’s largest paying tenant – the Colorado Supreme Court is paying the Denver Newspaper Agency $1.6 Million per year over the next three years for their temporary ‘digs’ while the new complex is constructed).
Fortunately, other media sources DID mention the cost of the new complex (in fact, EVERY other media source surveyed at least mentioned the cost of the new complex). From the media websites:
KWGN/KDVR (Denver 2, 31): (Former Colorado Judicial building imploded, new judicial complex planned)
The space makes way for the $258 million, 600,000-sq-ft. Ralph L. Carr Judicial Complex.
CBS (Denver Channel 4): (“Crowds Gather To Say Goodbye To Landmark“)
The new building will cost $258 million.
NBC (9News.com): (“Parents take children to marvel at Colorado Judicial Building demolition“)
Construction for the new $258 million judicial complex has already started at 14th Avenue and Broadway. It is going to be 600,000 square feet, and will house the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Court of Appeals, and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, along with a number of other agencies.
Seems like the amount of money being ponied up by Colorado citizens might be a relevant datum, wouldn’t you think?
“Make Room for Justice” or “Justice Held For Ransom?”
Unfortunately, NONE of the news coverage provided any information on just where all of this money to fund this massive new “judicial complex” is coming from (ultimately, of course, from your pockets – but the details are interesting).
Part of the funding for the project (authorized back during the 2008 legislative session under SB08-206 State Justice Center) comes from an unprecedented expansion in use of “Certificates of Participation” (in the words of a state legislator who shall remain nameless, “debt pretending not to be debt”). In fact, the legislative language specifies that the debt is simply re-defined as ‘not-debt’ by declaring that
the obligations shall not be deemed or construed as creating an indebtedness of the state within the meaning of any provision of the state constitution or the laws of the state of Colorado concerning or limiting the creation of indebtedness by the state of Colorado and shall not constitute a multiple fiscal-year direct or indirect debt or other financial obligation of the state within the meaning of section 20 (4) of article X of the state constitution. [SB08-206, Section 2, (2) (b), page 5]
Last summer, Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy was so proud of the ‘not-debt’ incurred to finance the construction of the new judicial complex (and new state history museum) that she trumpeted the great ‘success’ in a press release:
The successful financing of over $338 million in Certificates of Participation earlier today to build the new Colorado History Center and the Ralph L. Carr Justice Complex completed one of the largest sales of Build America Bonds to date, announced State Treasurer Cary Kennedy
The extensive use of Certificates of Participation as a funding mechanism to finance construction of the Colorado Judicial Complex is even more interesting in the context of the state treasurer’s race and a ballot initiative to limit government borrowing both being on the ballot this year.
“Crazy on Court Fees”
However, by far the greatest proportion of funding for the new judicial complex comes in the form of increasing the cost of access to justice by Colorado citizens due to substantial increases (including the creation of an entirely new category – the “Justice Center Fund” fee) in court fees.
Want to file a case in civil court, defend yourself against a claim, petition to change your name, or request a civil protection order? It’ll cost you an extra $37 for the “Justice Center Fund” – per filing. Small claims court filings? An extra $11 for the “Justice Center Fund”, thank you.
Oh, and that’s just in your local county court – which may be hundreds of miles away from the yet-to-be-built “Mullarkey Monument” (actually, even the legislature reportedly balked at naming the center after Mullarkey when some legislators dug in their heels and insisted upon another name; honoring former Republican Governor Ralph L. Carr – truly, a principled politician – but naming the center after him is a rather ironic twist). Need access to justice at the District Court level or higher? Be prepared to cough up even more in “fees” for the ”Justice Center Fund” – most actions in District Court now cost an additional $68 for the fund, some as much as another $136 or even $204 each, at any of the various District Courts (22 in all) across Colorado, still miles from the as-yet unbuilt Colorado Judicial Complex.
Even “domestic relations” cases across the state are now more expensive thanks to the ”Justice Center Fund” fees – legal separation, annulment, divorce will each cost another $26; child custody registration or child support order, another $15 just for financing the construction of the massive new judicial complex.
Death in the family? That’ll cost you extra, too – another $15 ”Justice Center Fund” fee for probate filings, estate fees, conservatorship, etc. etc. Anywhere in the state – all of Colorado now enjoys the privilege of contributing to this marvelous new edifice.
Even an “insufficient funds” return check fee for court payments (already $40, which is double what any private entity is allowed to charge) gets another $10 fee tacked on for the ”Justice Center Fund” (truly adding insult to injury).
Need to fight a case up to a higher court? Pretty much ANY actions at the Colorado Court of Appeals now costs an additional $68 fee for that ”Justice Center Fund.” Water Court? Same story – almost every activity listed incurs an additional $68 for the ”Justice Center Fund” (some activities, such as applying for Change of Water Right or Plan for Augmentation, cost double – $136).
Ironically, the ONLY court where you WON’T have to pay an extra ”Justice Center Fund” fee to pursue justice? You guessed it – the Colorado Supreme Court, who’s “home” is being financed by all these “fees” in the first place.
It has been said that “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Since “fees” are only supposed to be charged to offset the cost of providing or administering a voluntarily accessed good or service, the proliferation of new “fees” to finance the construction of palatial new digs for the Colorado Supreme Court – holding the administration of justice at county and District courts across the state hostage to this massive new monument to judicial supremacy – is questionable at best, particularly at a time when state resources are already strained and Colorado Citizens are being forced to cut back on personal spending. Aren’t we supposed to be asked before the government in Colorado can take more of our hard-earned dollars? Perhaps that’s why the Mullarkey Majority’s decision in the 2008 Barber v. Ritter “Fees aren’t really taxes” case – expanding the use of “fees” by government entities across the state as a means of evading constitutional protections against tax increases – has the taint of self-interest.
Don’t let Justice continue to be held for ransom – exercise your right to vote “NO” this November on the four (er, now 3) ‘unjust justices’ of the Colorado Supreme Court’s incumbent “Mullarkey Majority” (Justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice; soon minus Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who’s retiring rather than face the voters ) who need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax (er, “fee”) increases, your right to defend your home and business from seizure by governments abusing eminent domain, your right to be fairly represented in the legislature and Congress, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering under rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with comments (Sound Off!), contributions, and spreading the word about your right to vote “NO” against retaining these unjust justices on the bench for another 10 years!