Trespass trial set for Aspen Skiing Co. gadfly
July 4, 2012
ASPEN – A former ski instructor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to trespassing on Aspen Skiing Co.’s headquarters, setting the stage for a trial later this year.
Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin had offered a deferred judgment and no jail time to Lee Mulcahy, 48, of Aspen, for his third-degree trespass citation. Mulcahy rejected it.
Skico fired Mulcahy and banned him from company property in February 2011. The company said it was for multiple infractions of company policy. Mulcahy claimed it was because he criticized company practices and talked to other instructors about forming a union.
Yet clashes continue. In February, Pitkin County Deputy Levi Borst cited Mulcahy for taping a court notice at Skico’s offices at the Aspen Business Center.
Earlier this year, Mulcahy told The Aspen Times he was simply trying to deliver a revised court summons for a lawsuit he filed against Jim and Paula Crown, members of the family that owns Skico. The lawsuit was initially filed in Pitkin County District Court. It was refiled in Pitkin County Court. Once it was refiled, Mulcahy was obligated to inform the Crowns.
Mulcahy has claimed he tried to serve the summons by handing it to a Skico employee and asking her to take it inside, according to the incident report. The employee wouldn’t help. So Mulcahy decided to tape the summons to an outside door at Skico offices. He also has contended he thought he was on a public sidewalk to a side door at Skico headquarters, so he walked up and taped the notice to the door.
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That was enough to prompt Skico senior vice president and attorney Dave Bellack to contact the Sheriff’s Office, reporting the incident as harassment because of Mulcahy’s efforts to convince a Skico employee to take in the revised summons.
Now Mulcahy is set to go to jury trial Oct. 4 and 5 for the trespass ticket. Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely suggested that Mulcahy take the plea and be done with the case.
“A deferred judgment is usually a pretty good offer,” Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely told Mulcahy at a court briefing.
“No, thank you,” Mulcahy replied.
Mulcahy’s plans to retain a public defender were dampened when he told the judge he earns more than $987 a month as an artist, an amount that exceeds the threshold to qualify for taxpayer-funded counsel.
The judge encouraged Mulcahy to “get a lawyer or at least consult with one.”
“The basis for the alleged trespass was that I was serving court papers,” Mulcahy told Fernandez-Ely. “But I’m not a lawyer.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Mulcahy amplified his defense with a new court filing.
“It was not my intent by any stretch to trespass on Skico property,” he wrote in a motion to dismiss the trespass charge. “In fact, I’m still not clear as to where the public sidewalk ended. Moreover, I cannot stress how little I desire to interact with these sycophants. I was there for the sole purpose to serve court papers. … By allowing the trespassing charge to proceed, the court has doomed all process servers, none of whom I could really hire as I’m David fighting Goliath, to the same bullying tactics chilling all little people’s constitutional rights.”
In his lawsuit against the Crowns, Mulcahy is seeking to overturn the ban and damages of $1.
Mulcahy said his fight with his former employer is over freedom of speech. In addition to his lawsuit against the Crowns, he filed a libel lawsuit earlier this year against Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan for comments Kaplan made at the time of Mulcahy’s firing.
The lawsuits are pending.