Colorado Supreme Court allows Mulcahy to enlist attorney for fight with Aspen Institute
December 12, 2014
Lee Mulcahy has lawyered up in his battle with the Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival and School over a permanent protection order barring him from entering their campuses and from contacting their "representatives" in any public place.
Mulcahy hired Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, a prominent Denver law firm in criminal defense and civil law. The firm represented professional basketball player Kobe Bryant in his sexual-assault case in Eagle County among other high-profile cases.
The seven justices of the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Dec. 3 that Ty Gee, an attorney with Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, would be allowed to file an amended petition stating why the court should review Mulcahy's case. Mulcahy had represented himself since December 2012 in hearings in Pitkin County Court and Pitkin County District Court. He filed his own initial petition on why the Supreme Court should hear his case.
Gee's motion suggested Mulcahy realized he needed representation by an attorney before the highest court in the state. Mulcahy is an artist and former ski instructor. He has a doctorate degree in humanities, focusing on 19th century French art and literature. He doesn't have a law degree.
"While Mr. Mulcahy is undoubtedly well educated, the petition lacks the 'sharp presentation of issues' and argument to this Court that would demonstrate the need for certiorari review of the district court's order," Gee's motion said. He argued that Mulcahy should be granted an extension to file an amended petition.
The attorneys for the Institute and Music School — Waas Campbell Rivera Johnson and Velasquez — argued that Mulcahy had ample time to hire an attorney before the deadline for submitting a motion. He had received one earlier extension. They asked the justices to deny a second extension that would allow Gee to file an amended petition.
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"This is not a question of (Mulcahy) needing additional time. This is simply another effort to play games with Respondents, forcing them to spend the time and money drafting a second response brief," said the attorneys for the Institute and Music School.
Their response also said that Mulcahy had been given several breaks in the legal proceedings by judges, but that the leeway had to stop.
"This Court and the courts below have excused error after error, both in the timing of pleadings and format in which they are filed. But at some point, even pro se litigants must comply with the rules, and it is simply unfair to burden the Respondents with Petitioner's failure to follow clear procedures," the attorneys wrote in a Dec. 1 response.
The Supreme Court justices ruled two days later that Mulcahy's lawyers could file a new petition and, once they did, the petition that Mulcahy filed would be stricken. The Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival and School will have a chance to file a new response.
The order provided no reasoning for the decision.
The permanent protection order granted by Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely on Dec. 12, 2012, says Mulcahy must stay away from representatives of the Institute and Music School. He must leave public places such parks and restaurants when specifically asked to do so.
The order was granted after Mulcahy wrote on the Institute's Facebook page, "hey elites, you've divided us long enough. Be fair to us little people OR you're gonna have pitchforks and guns at your door. Yea, some of us white trash at occupy aspen believe in the N.R.A. too. # Remember the Alamo. Raise a glass to the Old Aspen."
It was viewed as a threat by employees because of prior conflicts with Mulcahy, according to testimony in the hearing for a restraining order.
Gee argued in his motion that the Colorado statute allows judges to issue "breathtakingly broad" permanent protection orders, especially in "emotionally or politically charged circumstances," such as in this case.
The Institute's attorneys argued that the protection order is easy to understand and not too broad.