No Charges In City Attorney Open Records Case

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said Friday his office will not be filing criminal charges against former Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez or any other members of the city attorney’s office in connection with the curious handling of a Colorado Open Records Act request from 2015.

“I don’t think the left hand knew what the right hand was doing,” Morrissey told CBS4. “They should have turned this over to you (CBS4). I believe it was wrong.”

But Morrissey said his office could not prove anyone willfully violated the open records statute, leading to the no charge decision.

The decision follows a seven month investigation by the Denver DA’s office, a move that was triggered by a CBS4 investigation. The television investigation revolved around the case of former assistant city Attorney Stuart Shapiro.

Stuart Shapiro (credit: CBS)

Stuart Shapiro (credit: CBS)

In 2015, the city attorneys office notified Shaprio he was being fired. But within two weeks, the city attorney sent a letter to Shapiro rescinding that termination. CBS4 filed a legal Colorado Open Records Act request asking for the letter rescinding the Shapiro firing. But the Denver City Attorney’s office responded, “There was no ‘letter or memo or documentation provided to Stuart Shapiro in August 2015 rescinding his termination’ and thus there are not documents responsive to your request.”

CBS4 later obtained a copy of the very letter which the city attorney claimed did not exist. That letter, dated August 24, 2015, and sent by City Attorney Litigation Director Rob Nespor, said “Dear Stuart … this notice of discipline addressed to you dated August 11,2015 is hereby rescinded. Until further notice you will remain on paid administrative leave.”

“You guys should have gotten them,” said Morrissey, referring to the documents requested under CORA.

Morrissey said the city attorney’s office made its claims relying on a legal theory that he said was “misapplied.”

“We do not for a second believe that legal theory belongs in an analysis of CORA.”

But he said that does not constitute criminal behavior.

Then Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez later explained “We were truthful throughout” and he said his staff did nothing legally wrong. Morrissey said in investigating the case, “there were too many lawyers involved.”

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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