Hecht request for expenses could have ‘chilling effect’
Nikos Hecht’s recent request to recover more than $180,000 in expenses related to his recent civil trial for rape could affect future victims of sexual assault.
That’s according to one of the lawyers for plaintiff Suzanna Dailey, who alleged that Hecht raped her at a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in March 2014.
“We believe that if costs are awarded to the defendant, it would have a chilling effect on victims of sexual assault coming forward,” said David Bovino, an Aspen lawyer who co-represented Dailey in the case and during the trial last month in federal court in Denver.
A jury of five women and two men took just 45 minutes to clear Hecht of the rape and assault allegations after four days of testimony, and agreed that the sexual encounter between him and Dailey was consensual.
Lawyers for Hecht, an investment fund manager and Aspen developer, filed a motion Tuesday asking to be reimbursed $182,518 for costs incurred for the trial, including more than $94,000 for a jury consultant.
Bovino confirmed that Dailey’s legal team was consulted on the four-page list of expenses and objected to many of them. The expenses Dailey didn’t object to means she doesn’t dispute they are recoverable “but reserves her argument that the court can decline to award such costs,” according to Hecht’s motion.
“We don’t dispute that some of the costs are recoverable, but the judge has the discretion not to grant the requested relief,” Bovino said Friday. “He has the discretion, especially if he thinks it was a close case.”
In addition, Dailey’s legal team is in the process of evaluating “post-trial relief, including an appeal,” Bovino said.
Hecht’s list of expenses includes nearly $48,000 for conducting depositions of witnesses in the case, including Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and one of his deputies who was involved in an unrelated domestic violence case against Hecht from July 2015, according to court documents. Neither DiSalvo nor the deputy testified at the trial.
Other expenses include fees for printing, the court reporter, lodging and food for Hecht and his attorneys during the trial and witness fees. The biggest expense was $94,198 paid to a jury consultant at a Denver law firm, according to the court documents.
A hearing will be held June 15 in front of the trial judge, R. Brooke Jackson, in Denver, according to the motion.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.