The Denver Post has a story about a lawsuit won by Mike Zinna against Jefferson County, Colorado, that illustrates the high cost of litigation and the incredible amounts government spends defending itself. The lawsuit arose after Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Congrove denied Zinna access to public records and prevented him from speaking at public meetings. Zinna claimed the County violated his first amendment rights. The court agreed and awarded Zinna damages of $1,791, which seems like a victory for Jefferson County. Not!
Jefferson County paid $464,242 to “win” the lawsuit. It may also be liable to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees, which could approach $500,000. The bottom line is Jefferson County taxpayers lose almost $1,000,000 in scarce government resources in these financially difficult times because a long-gone elected official prevented some guy from speaking at a public meeting. The justice system is completely out of balance.