Denver, CO – On September 21st, 2016, Attorney Jason Flores-Williams filed a Motion for Recusal of Judge Craig B. Shaffer who is set to hear the pretrial of the class-action lawsuit filed on August 25th, 2016, on behalf of people without housing who have had their constitutional rights consistently violated by the city of Denver.
Under the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution, all litigants are entitled to objective impartiality from the judiciary. According to the recusal motion, in this suit Judge Shaffer cannot guarantee an objective litigation process.
Part 1 of the Motion reads:
Plaintiffs respectfully submit this Motion For Recusal to this Honorable Court for the following grounds: Honorable Judge Craig B. Shaffer is an outstanding judge, but as a private attorney has partnered with law firms and attorneys in Downtown Denver who have strongly advocated for the positions of the Defendants and, more importantly, whose relationships with Defendants are foreseeable and relevant subjects of discovery, so that recusal, at this early date, is warranted.“
Judge Shaffer’s former business partner is John Moye of Moye, Giles, OKeefe, Vermeire & Gorrell, LLP. This law firm has had a long-term relationship with the Downtown Denver Partnership, which has strongly backed the Urban Camping Ban and other ordinances which have caused mass constitutional deprivations.
According to the Downtown Denver Partnership’s 2011-2012 Annual Report:
The Partnership helped lead the successful lobbying efforts to institute a city-wide unauthorized camping ban to address behaviors negatively affecting businesses and the Downtown environment.“
While acting as a private attorney, Judge Shaffer’s clients range from big corporations trying to avoid being held accountable for environmental devastation, to federal banking regulators in fraud and racketeering cases.
One of the corporations he represented was trying to eschew responsibility for the 1,400-acre Summitville Superfund Mine site in Rio Grande County, Colorado. In 1984, the Summitville Consolidated Mining Corporation Inc. began open pit mining for gold, copper and silver, states the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund website. The mining processes discharged large amounts of copper and other heavy metals and toxic substances into the Alamosa River, contaminating the soil, surface water and groundwater with heavy metals.
The mine operator, Summitville Consolidated Mining Corp., Inc. (SCMCI), used cyanide heap leaching to extract precious metals from the ore. In this process, ore excavated from the mountain was crushed and placed onto the clay and synthetic-lined HLP [heap leach pad]. A sodium cyanide solution was then applied to leach out gold and silver. Almost immediately after its construction in 1986, a leak was detected in the HLP. SCMCI abandoned the site and announced it was filing for bankruptcy in December 1992. EPA immediately assumed responsibility for the site and began emergency removals of contaminated sediment and soil.“
Part 13 of the Motion further highlights the conflict of interest:
Many of Judge Shaffer’s former partners and current professional associates are significant players in the effort to promote development in Downtown Denver. It is this development, without concern for the rights and dignity of Plaintiffs, that is the core of this cause of this action.
These are fundamental rights at stake—the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment, the Fourteenth Amendment protections of due process and equal protection—if there is any reasonable question here regarding impartiality—and there is—then it must be resolved in favor of recusal.“
Evidently Judge Shaffer has strong affiliations and admiration toward big business, thus making it clear why the class-action’s Motion for Recusal is so important.
You can read the full Motion for Recusal here.
To learn more about the class-action lawsuit, read our article here.
Denver Homeless Out Loud, an essential force in the lawsuit, has posted detailed requests for support here.
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Unicorn Riot coverage on Denver’s housing crisis:
- Denver Police Cash In on Houseless Encampment Clean-Ups (Feb. 5, 2020)
- Judge Rules Denver’s Camping Ban Unconstitutional, Dismisses Jerry Burton’s Ban Ticket (Jan. 3, 2020)
- Advocates Demand Denver Protect Rights of People Without Homes (Oct. 21, 2019)
- Denver’s ‘Right to Survive’ Ballot Initiative Voted Down (May 9, 2019)
- “Unhealthy By Design:” CU Denver’s New Report About Camping Ban (April 13, 2019)
- Denver Paid Clean-Up Company $400,000 to Help in Houseless Sweeps (Nov. 27, 2018)
- Denver Police, City Workers Throw Away Belongings Amid Lawsuit (July 16, 2018)
- Class-Action Against Denver for Criminalizing Houselessness Moves Forward (May 11, 2018)
- Fourth Push for Homeless Bill of Rights in Colorado Legislature (March 14, 2018)
- First Lawsuit Hearing for Mobile Home Park Residents Suing Park Owners (March 2, 2018)
- Denver’s First Tiny Home Village ‘Beloved Community Village’ Turns Six Months Old (January 19, 2018)
- Denver Park Rangers Take Sleeping Bag, Tent from Houseless Man in 25 Degree Weather (November 12, 2017)
- Eighty Families Offer to Purchase Mobile Home Park to Avoid Eviction (September 25, 2017)
- Denver Human Rights Activist and Community Organizer, Terese Howard, Faces Up to 30 Days in Jail (August 24, 2017)
- Class-Action Lawsuit Against Denver: Motions Filed for Summary Judgement (August 15, 2017)
- U.S. District Court of CO Certifies One of the Largest Houseless Class-Actions in U.S. History (April 29, 2017)
- Three Convicted in Camping Ban Trial Two Weeks Ahead of Right to Rest Act Hearing (April 18, 2017)
- Three Co-Defendants Fight Denver’s Camping Ban in Court (April 4, 2017)
- Third Push for Homeless Bill of Rights in Colorado Legislature (Feb. 24, 2017)
- With Mayor’s Approval, Denver Continues Survival Gear Confiscations (Dec. 16, 2016)
- Denver to Continue Confiscating Survival Gear of Unhoused Under Encumbrance Ordinance, to Stop Under Camping Ban (Dec. 11, 2016)
- Denver Intensifies Sweeps of Unhoused Community and Confiscates Survival Gear; Parade of Rights Rally (Dec. 4, 2016)
- First Hearing in Class-Action Against Denver for Violating Human Rights (Oct. 14, 2016)
- Class-Action Lawsuit Against Denver: Motion Filed for Recusal of Judge Shaffer (Sept. 22, 2016)
- People Without Housing File Lawsuit Against the City of Denver (Aug. 27, 2016)
- Denver’s Affordable Housing Displaces Low-Income Residents (June 20, 2016)
- City of Denver Cracks Down on its Homeless Community (Dec. 20, 2015)
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- Resurrection Village: Denver Police Destroy Tiny Homes and Arrest Builders (Oct. 27, 2015)