The Colorado Judicial Department will pay $350,000 for a comprehensive investigation into sweeping allegations of a hostile work environment and misconduct at the highest levels levied by its former chief of staff.
In a request for proposal it issued Monday, the department is seeking bids from independent investigators to delve into allegations that a $2.5 million five-year contract given to former Chief of Staff Mindy Masias was in return for silencing a tell-all sexual discrimination lawsuit she planned to bring.
In addition, investigators are to examine the department’s overall work environment, which was described as hostile toward women – and overly permissive toward men – in a two-page memo that highlighted the conduct Masias would make public in the lawsuit. The Post has also reported on allegations the department fosters a hostile workplace toward women.
The contract pays $250,000 for the workplace environment inquiry and $100,000 for the investigation into the Masias contract.
Bids are accepted until May 21.
The terms and scope of the contract were hashed out by an 8-member committee assembled in February by the branches of the Colorado government in response to a request from Chief Justice Brian Boatright.
The inquiry stems from 2019 Denver Post articles that revealed Masias was given the contract though she faced termination over financial irregularities. The contract was then canceled. In February, The Post reported that the contract was a way to keep Masias from revealing what she knew about sexual harassment within the department, much of it undisciplined, according to former chief administrator Christopher Ryan , who resigned in the wake of the contract issue.
The memo, authored by then-Human Resources Department chief Eric Brown, contains allegations of harassment and misdeeds by justices of the state Supreme Court, a judge of the Colorado Court of Appeals, district court chief judges, and chiefs of probation at a number of judicial districts. The memo also contained other allegations, including the destruction of evidence and payoffs to silence victims.
A separate fraud investigation by Auditor Dianne Ray began in February when Boatright made the memo public following The Post’s stories. The newspaper had been denied access to the memo despite requests under the department’s own open-records rules. The results of the auditor’s inquiry are not automatically public unless criminal charges are filed.
But the independent investigator’s report will be public, according to the RFP.
The investigator must also provide recommendations on “organizational, policy, and operational changes that are intended to promote a workplace free of discrimination including but not limited to sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and a sexually hostile work environment.”
They also must provide recommendations for improved oversight of “behavior and culture” in the department, including ways to ensure any judicial misconduct is property reported to disciplinary authorities.
The RFP calls for the investigator to look at the 2017 selection of the chief court administrator, a job Masias had wanted but did not get. She and another candidate were finalists, but neither garnered a majority vote of the sitting seven Supreme Court justices. One abstained from the vote.
In the interim, Ryan, then the clerk of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, was temporarily named to the job. He received it outright in August that year.
There is no timeline for when the independent investigation is to be concluded.
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