Two Denver law firms chosen to investigate Colorado judicial department

Two Denver law firms on Thursday were jointly awarded parts of a contract to investigate broad-reaching allegations of judicial misconduct and sexual harassment across Colorado’s independent judiciary.

The two firms — Investigations Law Group and RCT Ltd. — were chosen from about seven companies vying for the contract that would pay up to $350,000 to look into an alleged quid-pro-quo multi-million-dollar deal given to a former high-ranking executive in the judiciary. The investigation will also delve into allegations that the department fostered a culture in which women were sexually harassed and that some judges and other officials, most of them men, were protected from their accusers.

Investigations Law Group of Denver is to get the bulk of the contract, $250,000, to investigate the claims of workplace harassment and gender discrimination, according to the department’s intent to award issued Thursday. RCT, also in Denver, would be paid $75,000 to investigate the circumstances behind the deal given the former department official, according to the intent to award.

The intent to award opens a seven-day appeal process for unsuccessful bidders. Once potential appeals are resolved, contract negotiations with the vendors are expected to take several weeks, according to a department statement issued Thursday.

Investigations Law Group is headed by attorney Liz Rita. The company handled the inquiry into the climate within the Colorado General Assembly in 2018 following sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers that came to the forefront as part of the #MeToo movement, and following a Denver Post investigation that revealed what some called a toxic workplace at the Capitol.

That report found that sexual harassment and misconduct were widespread and rarely reported — and that tougher policies were needed to hold lawmakers accountable.

RCT is headed by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, whose firm in 2019 investigated allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests in Colorado. It blasted the dioceses for poor record-keeping, ineffective reporting systems, and a culture that suppressed allegations and created a danger to children.

The bidders were chosen by a panel of eight people named by the governor, the two leaders of the state Senate and House of Representatives, and the attorney general’s office. It came in response to Denver Post stories that in February revealed the existence of a memo that highlighted information former Judicial Department Chief of Staff Mindy Masias was prepared to disclose in a sexual discrimination lawsuit. Allegations included judicial misconduct and the mistreatment of women in the agency that reached back years.

Masias was the second-highest-ranking non-judicial official in the department and faced firing over financial irregularities.

Former Chief Court Administrator Chris Ryan, Masias’ boss, told The Post that a $2.5 million contract was given to Masias in order to prevent the lawsuit. That decision, Ryan said, was made by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan “Ben” Coats.

“We are grateful to the panelists for their hard work and dedication in developing the solicitations and reviewing bids,” sitting Chief Justice Brian Boatright said in a statement. “The panel clearly had a difficult choice to make based on the quality of all the proposals submitted.”

There is no time limit on the investigation.

Two other inquiries were launched as a result of The Post’s stories, one by the Attorney Regulation Counsel which oversees law licenses, and the other by the state auditor, who is investigating allegations of fraud.

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