A lawsuit alleging Jefferson County and District 1 Commissioner Jim Congrove conspired to deprive longtime county critic Mike Zinna of his constitutional rights was dismissed May 23.
The suit was one of two against Jeffco filed by Zinna since 2005. The other is a 2006 case against Congrove and a group of his associated whom Zinna accuses of illegally obtaining his e-mails and creating a website to attack and defame him.
In his May 23 ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said: "Although (Zinna) has shown sufficient evidentiary support for some of his claims of constitutional torts, he has failed to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of fact that the infringing activities were pursuant to an official policy, practice or custom of Jefferson County."
However, the judge did rule that Zinna could enter more information in the separate case against Congrove.
Zinna filed numerous public records requests and regularly attended commission meetings beginning in 2003 after a land development deal at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport involving a company Zinna worked with fell through. That company sued the county and lost, and after that Zinna was on a mission to expose what he saw as corruption in county government. He created www.JeffcoExposed.com and published stories about malfeasance and corruption, which created open animosity between Zinna and some Jeffco officials.
Zinna said recently that the 2006 lawsuit is an extension of the 2005 case. He added after the May 23 ruling that he was not surprised by the ruling and believes it further implicates Congrove.
"Judge Matsch issued the correct ruling at this juncture," Zinna said. "The evidence against Commissioner Congrove individually is overwhelming. I don't personally draw a distinction between the chair of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners and the county itself; however, I understand that legally they are two separate entities."
Jefferson County taxpayers have shelled out at least $198,000 in "outside counsel fees" associated with the dismissed lawsuit, according to a March 2008 Courier open records request and information from county spokesperson Kathryn Heider.
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