Former Garfield County Jail employee’s trial put off until early next year
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A trial over accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and wrongful termination of a Garfield County Jail employee has been postponed to some time next year, if it is held at all.
The case, filed in 2008 by former jail employee Lisa Martin, accuses Sheriff Lou Vallario and his former jail commander, Scott Dawson, of improperly firing Martin in May 2007 after she complained about sexual harassment and other problems she had with Dawson and other employees of the jail.
Although the trial was scheduled for late September 2010 at one point, it now appears that the next time the case will be before a judge will be on Feb. 24, 2011, for a “case management hearing.”
Another set of hearings, set for March 3 and 4, will involve what is known as a Trinity hearing. It will be to hear arguments over whether Martin filed an intent to sue the county in time to meet a deadline involving governmental immunity to civil prosecution.
According to press reports at the time the case was filed, Martin claimed to have been fired “under the pretext of insubordination” as a way of covering up Dawson’s alleged assaults.
Martin, daughter of Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, also alleged in the lawsuit that Vallario and Dawson both pressured her to falsify reports, budget documents and employment records for the sheriff’s office.
Vallario was quoted at the time as calling Martin’s allegations “absolutely frivolous” and declaring that her case would never hold up in court.
In late August, the three attorneys in the case – representing Martin, Vallario and Dawson separately – were told to prepare for trial starting on Sept. 27.
But earlier in September, the judge agreed to vacate the trial and set a “Trinity hearing” for Sept. 27-28. The name “Trinity hearing” comes from a 1993 legal precedent involving the Trinity Broadcasting Network in Denver.
Attorney Richard Dally, representing Martin, in August referred to the Trinity hearing as a “mini-trial,” in which many of the salient facts and claims of the case would be aired.
Those hearing dates, too, were vacated recently, and the judge this week set the February and March hearing dates.
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