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Ashford Wortham and Cornelius Campbell Lawsuit

Ashford Wortham and Cornelius Campbell Lawsuit

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Published by: Nick on Jul 17, 2012
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DISTRICT COURT, CITY AND COUNTY OFDENVER, COLORADOCourt Address: 1437 Bannock St.Denver, CO 80202 ____________________________________________ 
ASHFORD WORTHAM, an individual; andCORNELIUS CAMPBELL, an individual
MARY DULACKI, in her official capacityas Records Coordinator for the Department of Safety _____________________________________________ 
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
 Steven D. Zansberg, #26634Christopher P. Beall, #28536Adam M. Platt, #38046LEVINE SULLIVAN KOCH & SCHULZ, LLP1888 Sherman St., Suite 370Denver, Colorado 80203Tel: (303) 376-2400; Fax: (303) 607-3601E-mail:szansberg@lskslaw.com cbeall@lskslaw.com aplatt@lskslaw.com 
In cooperation with the American Civil LibertiesUnion Foundation of Colorado
Mark Silverstein, #26979Taylor Pendergrass, #36008American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado400 Corona StreetDenver, Colorado 80218Tel: (303) 777-2490; Fax: (303) 777-1773E-mail:msilver2@worldnet.att.net tpendergrass@aclu-co.org 
 ___________________________ Case Number:
Plaintiffs, Ashford Wortham and Cornelius Campbell, for their Complaint against theDefendant, Mary Dulacki, in her official capacity as the Records Coordinator for the Denver Department of Safety allege as follows:
 Pursuant to the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (“CCJRA”), Plaintiffs seek disclosure of records concerning the Denver Police Department’s (“DPD”) investigation of acitizen complaint filed by Ashford Wortham and Cornelius Campbell alleging that policeofficers engaged in racial profiling, used excessive force, stopped their vehicle without probable cause, and engaged in other improper conduct such as holding them at gunpoint,searching them without cause, taunting them with racial epithets, and issuing a groundlesscitation to Mr. Wortham for minor traffic violations on Friday, February 13, 2009.The police officers involved were Sgt. Perry Speelman, Officer Jesse Campion, andOfficer Davis. In 2004, before his promotion to sergeant, Speelman was named in a civilrights lawsuit alleging racial profiling that ultimately led the City of Denver to pay $75,000to settle with the complainant, Terrill Johnson.The events of February 13 led Mr. Wortham to file a complaint with the Denver Police Internal Affairs Bureau (“IAB”). Three months later, Mr. Wortham received noticethat the charges against the police officers were not sustained. But at a hearing on June 26,2009, Denver County Court Judge Aileen Ortiz-White dismissed all three charges againstMr. Wortham and expressly found that the “[p]olice conduct was
extreme, profane andracially motivated
,” and that Wortham and Campbell were “unlawfully detained for anunreasonable time and without reasonable suspicion.”Thereafter Messrs. Wortham and Campbell made a written request to inspect the IABfile regarding the incident. In a letter dated July 24, 2009, Department of Safety RecordsCoordinator Mary Dulacki denied their request in its entirety, asserting that disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest.” She stated that because the IAB did not sustain thecharges against Speelman, Campion and Davis, the officers’ privacy interests outweighed the public interest in understanding the basis of the IAB’s decision.In this action, Plaintiffs contend that the contrary is true, that disclosure
thestrong public interest in monitoring the conduct and performance of public officials indischarging their public duties.
See, e.g., Waller v. Georgia
, 467 U.S. 39, 47 (1984) (“The public in general . . . has a strong interest in exposing substantial allegations of policemisconduct to the salutary effects of public scrutiny.”).Ms. Dulacki’s refusal to produce even a single word contained in the officers’ IABfile constitutes an abuse of the discretion vested upon her under the CCJRA, § 24-72-305(5),C.R.S. Moreover, the rationale supporting Ms. Dulacki’s denial suffers from twofundamental and fatal flaws: First, it is well established in Colorado that law enforcementofficials have
reasonable expectation of privacy in records that reflect their on-the-jobdischarge of official duties; Second, whether or not the IAB sustains charges against a law
 enforcement official is irrelevant to the determination of whether disclosure wouldcontravene the public interest.The egregiousness of Ms. Dulacki’s abuse of discretion is evident from her refusal todisclose either the officers’ or Messrs. Wortham and Campbell’s own statements provided tothe IAB, or these peace officers’ IAB Complaint Summaries showing the history of IABcomplaints against them and the determinations or outcomes of those complaints. In asimilar case filed in 2003, the ACLU sued Denver on behalf of Terrill Johnson, seekingdisclosure of the IAB file generated after Johnson’s complaint that he was the victim of racial profiling by several Denver police officers, including the later-promoted Sgt.Speelman. Sergeant Speelman’s IAB Complaint Summary (now eight years old), which wasdisclosed by the City in accordance with the Court’s order in Mr. Johnson’s case, showedthat Speelman had been the subject of 17 IAB investigations over the previous ten years,many for “unnecessary force” or “discourtesy.” A copy of Sgt. Speelman’s IAB ComplaintSummary, as produced by the city in 2003, is attached as
Exhibit A.
 Finally, the purported reasoning supporting Ms. Dulacki’s denial provides an equallyvalid (or, more accurately, invalid) basis for the denial of 
each and every
other CCJRArequest for access to an IAB investigation file where the charges have not been sustained.The flaw in Ms. Dulacki’s logic is self-evident: The only way the public can have anyconfidence that the DPD is properly investigating and punishing police misconduct is by being provided access
to the records that document that investigation.
This is especially truewhen, as here, the IAB determines no violation occurred, while a judge who heard the sworntestimony in court reached the opposite conclusion.
This honorable Court has jurisdiction of the claims herein, pursuant to Section24-72-305(7) of the Criminal Justice Records Act (“CCJRA”), § 24-72-301,
et seq.
, C.R.S.2.
Plaintiff Ashford Wortham, an individual, is a citizen of the State of Colorado,residing in the City and County of Denver.3.
Plaintiff Cornelius Campbell, an individual, is a citizen of the State of Colorado, residing in the City and County of Denver.4.
Plaintiffs are “persons” as defined in the CCJRA, § 24-72-302(9), C.R.S.(2009).5.
Defendant Mary Dulacki is the Records Coordinator of the Department of Safety of the City and County of Denver, Colorado and is the “official custodian” of thecriminal justice records at issue in this case.
§ 24-72-302(5) & (8), C.R.S. (2009).

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