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Judge in Lakewood case incensed over altered deed

A quick update on the City of Lakewood / Jefferson County Schools land battle that I wrote about earlier this month….

First off, let me start by saying that as a journalist, I love documents. Documents, especially government documents, are almost sacred to me. So in just a bit, you’ll listen to some audio where clearly, documents are sacred to a judge, and she lets counsel know it for sure.

To familiarize yourself with the story, you might want to revisit the first story I wrote on this subject available at this link.

The City of Lakewood owns a particular few acres that serves as open space and a park, but the ownership is in dispute. The Jefferson County School District is saying they own the property, and from all available evidence the City of Lakewood is trying to agree with JeffCo. Yes, you read that right, Lakewood is trying to essentially give away property valued at roughly $500,000 to a different government.

This would probably be a fait accompli if it weren’t for a gritty group of citizens who lawyered up, as they are trying to keep the property in the City’s hands, because if they’re successful, the acreage will probably remain as it is now, and that’s what the homeowners thought they were getting when they bought their properties next to the park.

What greatly complicates this story is there are two deeds to the property. And one of those deeds was altered before it was submitted to the court.

So in the audio embedded below, listen to Judge Margie Enquist tell attorney Bill Kolwalski that submitting an altered document is “offensive to the dignity of the court.” As far as the politeness and formality that pass for courtroom procedure, this is as harsh a dressing-down as one can typically come by. (FYI when you hear the term ‘interveners,’ the court is referring to the citizens group.) The judge starts to grill counsel at about 1:30 in the audio.

For an in-depth report on this particular court hearing, the Denver Post YourHub Lakewood has an excellent summary.

For the record, counsel for the parties is as follows:

Attorneys William Kowalski (voice heard on the recording), Page Crowther, and Kristin C. Edgar from the law firm of Caplan and Earnest LLC, represent the Jefferson County School District.

The City of Lakewood is represented by M. Patrick Wilson and Christopher M. Price of Murray Dahl Kuechenmeister & Renaud LLP and also Timothy P. Cox, Marcus A. McAskin, and Jill M. Hassman of the firm Widner, Michow & Cox LLP

The Intervenors are represented by Jo Timmins and Elliot Fladen of Timmins LLC

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