GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The civil case of Lisa Martin, a former employee of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office took a complicated turn in recent weeks.
The judge in the matter was asked to recuse himself over allegations that he was improperly delaying the case, and that he was therefore prejudiced against the Martin's claims against Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and former county jail commander Scott Dawson.
Ninth District Court Judge James Boyd dismissed the motion to recuse himself but could not directly defend his conduct because the case is ongoing.
"I can't discuss the details of this," Boyd told a reporter from the Post Independent on Tuesday.
Martin, 43, worked in the county jail from 2004 to 2007, when she was dismissed over allegations of insubordination and falsifying her time sheet, according to Vallario and Dawson.
But Martin maintains she was fired because she blew the whistle on alleged sexual harassment and assault against her by Dawson.
In 2008 she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Vallario and Dawson, along with separate claims against Dawson regarding the sexual harassment and assault allegations. Dawson was fired from his post in 2009, for undisclosed reasons.
In early July 2010, Vallario filed a motion asking the judge for a summary judgment dismissing the claims against himself, but that motion was not addressed by the judge for nearly two and a half years.
On Jan. 15, 2013, Boyd dismissed Martin's claims against the sheriff, ruling that Martin was fired from her job in keeping with the sheriff's departmental policies.
That order came four days after Martin's attorney, Richard Dally, accused Boyd of improperly delaying decisions in the case, and of prejudice against Martin's claims. The accusations came in a motion that Dally filed at 9:18 a.m. on Jan. 11 asking the judge to recuse himself.
In an affidavit attached to his motion, Dally argued that Martin's case has been "crippled from judicial inaction. Witnesses are dispersed, and refuse to speak about the evidence they have forgotten."
Dally's motion argued that Boyd's delay in issuing a ruling "shows an interest, a prejudice, or a 'bent of mind' that will prevent him from dealing fairly in this case."
Hours after Dally filed his motion, Vallario filed his own motion to oppose the recusal request, at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 11, arguing that switching judges would not help move the case along.
Vallario also noted that, at a status conference on June 3, 2011, Boyd told both sides that he planned to grant Vallario's motion, but that he had not gotten around to writing it in a formal order.
Vallario rejected Dally's accusation that the judge is prejudiced against Martin, and called on Boyd to deny the motion to recuse himself.
Judge Boyd did so in an order issued Jan. 14, noting that Martin's remaining claims against Dawson are set for a jury trial starting Sept. 30.
Reached by telephone on Tuesday, the judge said repeatedly that he could not comment about an ongoing case before him.
But, he added cautiously, "If a judge feels he is biased, it is the judge's duty to recuse himself." He concurred that his statement implied that in the Martin case, he does not feel himself to be biased.
As for the two-and-a-half-year delay, Boyd said, "Delay is unfortunate in any case," again citing his inability to discuss current cases.
He mentioned the heavy judicial workload in the 9th District, which covers Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, but did not specifically link that workload to the delay in the Martin case.