Colorado Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Adams 12 school board election case

On January 29, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case to determine who will fill the District 4 seat on the Adams 12 school board.

As we reported in an earlier blog post, the question before the high court is whether candidate Amy Speers won the November election even though she was ineligible to run or, as Secretary of State Scott Gessler argues, whether opponent Rico Figueroa won even though he garnered fewer votes than Speers. At issue is an emergency rule by Gessler that disqualified Speers.

We first told the entire story back in November. Speers and Figueroa ran against each other to represent District 4 of the Adams 12 Five Star school district, an area that includes parts of Northglenn and Thornton. Vote totals show that Speers earned the most votes -- 24,169 compared to Figueroa's 14,081. But Speers wasn't able to take office. A week before the election, Adams 12 officials discovered that she lives outside District 4, a relatively recent development due to a redrawing of the boundaries for school board members in 2012. When she signed up to run against the incumbent Figueroa, Speers didn't realize the boundaries had changed.

But even after the address snafu came to light, Speers refused to drop out of the race. She says she encouraged people to vote for her anyway to send a message that the residents of Adams 12 supported non-conservative candidates such as herself.

However, at 5:19 p.m. on election day, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler issued an emergency rule declaring votes for ineligible candidates "invalid." His rule effectively stopped the county clerks from counting Speers's votes.

Soon thereafter, a group of eight citizens filed a lawsuit against Gessler and the clerks, alleging that the emergency rule went against the law. They argued that the clerks should count Speers's votes. And if she won, they contended in their lawsuit, the District 4 seat should be declared vacant and the school board should appoint someone to fill it.

On November 18, Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt sided with the eight citizens. Within the next few days, the counties that comprise Adams 12 released the vote totals -- which clearly showed that Speers won the most votes.

But Gessler wasn't happy with the judge's ruling. After issuing a statement declaring that it "hurts the voters of the Adams 12 school district and undermines the democratic process," he appealed the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.

On November 25, the high court agreed to hear the case and set a deadline of December 16 for opening briefs. But now, the court has asked for additional briefs due January 21 and scheduled the case for oral arguments at 9 a.m. January 29.

Below, read the briefs filed thus far. Interestingly, they include a "friend of the court," or amicus curiae, brief filed by the Douglas County Education Alliance in support of Gessler's position. Judging by its online presence, the group is a pro-conservative and anti-union.

Continue to read the briefs.

Application for Review filed by Gessler

Brief filed by Citizens Supporting Speers

DCEA Amicus Brief

Rico Figueroa Amicus Brief

More from our Education archive: "Patti Adler, CU professor in prostitution skit controversy, to retire."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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