|Loveland's Independent News Source
|Judge Geri Joneson is a direct employee of Loveland's City Council. She must rely upon the
city council for her employment with the city, annual employee reviews and salary
determination. After receiving the phone call from Loveland's Mayor apparently to influence
her decision, the judge appropriately recused herself from the matter referring it to a Greeley
judge not managed by Loveland's City Council.
Attempts to even further cover the mayor's likely criminal behavior by Mayor Pro Tem John
Fogle were unsuccessful as Loveland defense attorney and City Councilman Troy Krenning
questioned Mayor Cecil Gutierrez about his attempts to use his official capacity to influence the
judge during the May 16, 2017 council meeting. Gutierrez nervously responded he was only
calling to get "advice" about the case to which Krenning responded that is the role of the city
attorney not the judge. Krenning spoke to Larry Sarner during his exchange with Gutierrez
saying, "All of these shenanigans behind the curtains, in fact as you suspect are going
on, truly are going on"
Krenning than turned his attention towards his colleagues stating, "Also, I am not sure that
the city attorney and or the council shouldn't refer this matter to our district attorney to
contemplate whether or not laws were broken by our mayor trying to influence or
contact our judge on a case that was at or near at issue......encroaches on official
misconduct which is a crime."
SEE VIDEO CLIP OF THE MEETING
What The Mayor Was Trying To Stop
Loveland resident Larry Sarner wants to place on November's ballot a measure limiting the
power of the Loveland City Council to change sales taxes without approval by the community.
In order to have the measure qualify for the ballot, Sarner needs to get his measure approved
as legally valid by the Loveland City Clerk then obtain a minimum number of signatures to
qualify the measure to be placed on the ballot this November in a limited period of time.
Loveland's City Clerk has relied heavily on Loveland's City Attorney, who reports directly to
Loveland's City Council, in her continuing and repeated rejections of Sarner's proposed ballot
measure. At issue is whether Sarner's proposed ballot measure violates the Loveland City
Charter which limits ballot measures to a single and not multiple issues. The clerk rejected
Sarner's petition, denying him the ability to circulate it to gain the necessary signatures,
claiming the sales tax issue he proposes involves more than one issue. Sarner argues his
measure only places "guardrails" around sales taxes charged and therefore qualifies as a
Sarner attempted to file a complaint against the city in municipal court but was also refused by
the clerk of the court who had been secretly advised by Loveland's City Attorney not to allow
Sarner to file his complaint. Therefore, Larry Sarner entered Judge Joneson's courtroom on
May 11, waiting for an opportunity to speak.
Judge Joneson will periodically ask if anyone in attendance would like to bring a matter before
the court. Sarner responded he would and spoke to the judge about her clerk, also a city
employee, refusing to allow him to file his case in her court which is normally used for
adjudicating misdemeanors like parking and speeding tickets. Unaware of the matter, Judge
Joneson asked Sarner to return the next morning at 10:00 AM so she could determine proper
jurisdiction of the case before hearing any of the substance of the matter.
Loveland's City Attorney apparently contacted Mayor Gutierrez who than called Judge Joneson
in an attempt to either cancel the hearing or derail any consideration of Sarner's proposed
measure to which Gutierrez is emphatically opposed.
Because Sarner will only have a limited time to gather signatures before the deadline to place
the measure on the ballot, the city doesn't need to prevail in court; only delay the matter long
enough to deny Sarner's right to seek citizen support for placing his measure on the ballot.
Typically, such matters are referred to district court. Larimer County courts have recently
placed a $10,000 bond requirement on Sarner in other cases thus forcing him to drop his
litigation for lack of funds. The City of Loveland is trying to prevent the municipal judge, who is
unlikely to impose such a fine, from hearing the case or even determining whether the matter
is appropriate for her court to hear.
Councilman Richard Ball, a local bankruptcy attorney, also commented on the matter
speculating other reasons for the judge recusing herself from the case. Almost comically, Ball
explained that only three city employees report directly to the city council but while attempting
to name those three positions could only name the city manager and municipal judge.
Colleagues reminded him the third employee is the city attorney.
Ex parte means one-sided. An ex parte
communication is any communication
between a judge or juror and a party to a
legal proceeding or any other person
about the case, outside of the presence of
the opposing party or the opposing party’s
Obstruction of Justice -18-8-102–
Committing the crime of obstruction of
justice is a very serious criminal offense.
Obstruction of justice is defined by any
action that prevents or hinders the proper
judicial process, the administration of the
courts, law enforcement or correctional
Attempting to influence a judge by another
public official (especially one with authority
over that judge) is a "textbook" violation of
|Loveland Mayor Caught: "Obstructing Justice"
Loveland, May 22, 2017
On May 10, Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez called the
city's municipal court judge, Geri Joneson, to influence a
case filed by Loveland resident Larry Sarner against the
city scheduled to be heard in her court the next morning.
Subsequent to the mayor's secret phone call to the judge,
an email was circulated to Loveland's City Council at 5:36
PM regarding the case which the Loveland City Clerk is
refusing to make available to the public. In addition,
LovelandPolitics has learned the mayor and Mayor Pro
Tem John Fogle began contacting fellow councilors to
provide a "heads-up" complaining about the judge's
decision to hear Sarner's case prior to determining
"subject matter jurisdiction."