“The courtroom was stunned, the State’s people floundered, their mouths gaped open, and the hearing ended. It was a beautiful and movie-worthy ending.”
Blog Post #16: The O’Gorman Hearing: Caught with their Pants Down
Julie’s hearing was set for August 28th and 29th. Somewhere along the way, her attorneys, Dan Foster and Randall Chin, requested that Stan and I be involved. As we approached the hearing, we had multiple conversations with Foster and Chin, and were impressed with their competence and zeal. They listened to us very attentively, which was going to be the downfall of the state’s case against Julie (as you will see), because the state had never contacted us. Stan was to be an actual witness (potential), while I was an “advisory witness.” That meant that Stan would be sequestered outside of the hearing, and called on if needed. I was able to sit in on the hearing, right behind Julie’s attorneys, and make suggestions if I heard things that needed correction, or to answer questions, but I was not going to be called to the witness stand.
The hearing was to be held before an Administrative Law Judge.
As we prepared for the hearing, things got more and more bizarre. We found out that the state’s investigator (who never contacted us), had instead contacted T.C., our former development partner. This was, of course, laughable for a variety of reasons, and I still have a transcript of their phone conversation in my possession, a phone conversation in which T.C. sounds (to me) confused or impaired. In addition to his inability to answer the investigator’s questions clearly and succinctly, T.C. was not a reliable witness or source of information because:
- He was a disgruntled former partner;
- He is not, nor has he ever been a developer, in spite of his claims to the contrary. He’s a surveyor.
- He had no official “voice” – he wasn’t a partner in our project (he had temporarily been a joint-venture partner, but that fell through); he wasn’t an appraiser; he wasn’t a real estate agent; he wasn’t a city council member; he didn’t work for the county; and he wasn’t an engineer. He was a surveyor. Period.
- We were told by a family member that T.C. has Alzheimer’s and has been on medication for five years, which did not at all surprise us because we had become seriously concerned about his competency, and, in fact, if I were to print the transcript of the phone conversation that he had with the state’s investigator, you would see what I mean.
Nonetheless, the state decided to use T.C. as a witness.
The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) did a fine job of handling the hearing, but the State’s case seemed to be conducted by clowns. I was horrified when, in their opening statement, they alleged a criminal web of deceit, fraud, abuse, and collusion between the landowners and Julie and our attorney. (Please remember that we had never talked to Julie, and had never laid eyes on her until this moment – it’s pretty hard to collude with someone you’ve never met or talked to!)
They called our former partner T.C., and, as predicted, he turned out to be a lousy witness for the state, and they should never have called him. The state was trying to get him to state that the project was worthless, but of course he would be a poor witness for the state. They seemed to have missed the point that he expected to make millions of dollars on the project, and that he had sued us for $15 million in future profits. He couldn’t exactly deny that, so it was counterproductive for the state to use him as a witness. Julie’s attorney, Foster, wrung T.C.’s tail on his lawsuit against us for future profits, later commenting to me and Stan that T.C. had very quickly turned into a witness for Julie, which was true from my observation, as well.
The deputy AG and his assistant, were constantly bungling the papers, and making easily refutable allegations. Most of what they presented was goofy hearsay, which couldn’t and didn’t get admitted as evidence.
Some of the funniest allegations were that we had no utilities to our subdivision, therefore the appraisal was overvalued. It was so silly because you could see the power lines in the photos in the appraisal and, of course, we had our receipts for the lines we had installed. Additionally, both we and T.C. had moved into the first two homes in the subdivision and we were enjoying water, phone, electricity and gas. The fact that they would make allegations like that without visiting the property and talking to us, the landowners, violated the fundamental principles of good practice of law. And you, Gentle Reader, should know that as funny as it is, it’s very scary that your government has this kind of ludicrous and abusive power to simply stand in a courtroom and say things that aren’t true – and that they’ve never investigated, and for which they have no supporting evidence.
The hearing went on for two days, and I heard more boring details about the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) than I ever wanted to know.
As the testimony droned on, the State looked worse and worse. They were basing their entire case on the fact that annexation of our subdivision to the City of Walsenburg had been denied (not true), which therefore would theoretically mean that the land was less valuable (I’m not sure that’s even a supportable theory).
But, as I showed in my previous post, their argument was entirely irrelevant because when the City granted us extra-territorial water, we had chosen not to pursue annexation and to develop in the county (not to mention – again -- the fact that the annexation had never been denied).
In addition – and naturally – the state never presented any evidence of fraud, collusion, abuse or criminal behavior, because 1) there wasn’t any; and 2) that’s not what the case was about in the first place.
Caught With Their Pants Down
Finally, while the State’s deputy clowns fumbled around at their desk, not paying attention to what Foster (Julie’s attorney) was saying, Foster got a certified copy of the minutes of the City Council meeting at which they had approved the annexation admitted into evidence and abruptly moved to rest.
The courtroom was stunned, the State’s people floundered, their mouths gaped open, and the hearing ended. It was a beautiful and movie-worthy ending.
Now we just had to wait for the judge’s decision. © Sharon Cairns Mann