Tim Masters's settlement from Fort Collins over improper murder conviction: $5.9 million

When Tim Masters, whose 1999 murder conviction was tossed thanks to DNA evidence, received $4.1 million from the Eighth Judicial District of Larimer County in February, we predicted there'd be more cash to come.

Bingo. Today, the City of Fort Collins and police defendants settled a lawsuit with Masters for $5.9 million -- and David Lane, Masters's attorney, feels the $10 million total is appropriate.

"I think that's good compensation for a man who has lived the nightmare that Tim Masters lived," Lane says.

Did Fort Collins act in good faith during the process of resolving the matter? The question nettles Lane.

"Good faith: I don't know what that means," he maintains. "Whenever anybody settles a case, they settle it because they don't want to go through a trial, because they're afraid the liability they'd incur at trial would far exceed what they would settle for. It's a moralistic term.

"They must have looked at the facts of the case and thought, 'If we go to trial and lose, this could cost us tens of millions of dollars. Better to settle for $5.9 million.' It's always a cost-benefit analysis, a decision to cut your losses rather than go to trial."

The settlement represents the last of Masters's litigation, and Lane says that pleases him. "Tim has always wanted all of this put behind him," he allows.

Lane, however, would like to see a few more things to happen -- specifically to district judges Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair, who were censured by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2008 in relation to the Masters case, and Lieutenant Jim Broderick, the subject of an October 2009 perjury probe.

"I hope that the wrongdoers in this case -- and I refer to judges Gilmore and Blair, as well as Detective Broderick -- receive justice," Lane says. "I hope Gilmore and Blair receive justice at the hands of the voters this November. And I hope Broderick receives some justice at the hands of the criminal justice system."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts