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Municipal Judge Presiding Over Cases
Despite Losing Authority
Loveland - November 28, 2014

Last June representatives for various Loveland restaurants lined-up to apply for or extend their liquor
licenses to operate in Loveland according to state law.  7-Eleven, Smashburger, Lincoln House of Spirits, P.F.
Chang's in Centerra and Justines Pizza were among the ten businesses appearing before Loveland's Deputy
Municipal Judge James Packard on licensing issues.  The 'Wonderful Dragon' also had a change of
ownership request before Judge Packard.

Unknown to those appearing, "Deputy Judge" James Packard's two-year appointment to preside as a judge
expired five months before the hearing.  As one participant who asked not to be named told
LovelandPolitics, "It matters to me because if my driver's license or liquor license expired and I kept driving
or selling alcohol I doubt anyone would say that is just a formality."  Whether or not those businesses are
indeed operating within the law appears to be in question since the "authority" may not have really been
given by a legitimate judge.
see city minutes of the hearings

Loveland’s Municipal Court hears over 10,000 cases a year involving “decriminalized” traffic violations,
formal arraignment, conducting trials by judge or jury for disputed violations, assessing penalties and fines
for violators and even issuing arrest warrants of “non-compliant” offenders; like those with an expired
driver's license.

The legitimacy of hundreds of cases adjudicated by Loveland’s Municipal Court are now being called into
question by Loveland Councilman Troy Krenning, a local defense attorney, who is calling on his colleagues
to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.  Krenning has questioned Loveland's Judge Starks
(who Packard reports under) in previous matters
as reported by LovelandPolitics.

At issue is Loveland Municipal Deputy Judge James Packard presiding over cases without proper authority
being granted by Loveland’s City Council since his last two-year appointment expired January 18, 2013.  In
other words, he was no longer qualified to preside as a judge according to Councilman Krenning but
continued anyway as in the matter of the liquor licenses and likely traffic violations that are routinely
dispatched by Loveland's Municipal Court.

According to Loveland’s City Charter,

(b) The City Council shall appoint, by the affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the entire Council, a
presiding municipal judge and such deputy municipal judges as the Council deems necessary. Each
municipal judge shall be appointed for a two (2) year term.

Absent another appointment in January 2013, Packard was no longer a Judge according to Krenning but
continued presiding over cases anyway.  It appears the city's excuse is they forgot because there was no
other reason for his re-appointment not to be brought before city council.  However, as Loveland residents
know, forgetting to renew a driver's license or obey traffic speeds is hardly a defense in the municipal court
where Deputy Judge Packard has been presiding.

Historically, deputy judges have been allowed to continue hearing cases long after their two-year
appointment has expired.  Previous Loveland City Councils in 2005 and 2010 attempted a “retroactive” re-
appointment of the deputy judge as a way to legitimize cases after he presided over them despite operating
outside the city charter.  Until now, nobody questioned the practice.

Loveland Reporter-Herald reporter Saja Hindi has documented much of the internal finger pointing
between Loveland’s Municipal Judge Bill Starks and the city’s human resources (HR) department in an
article appearing in today’s edition.  Judge Starks works directly for the city council while the HR
Department reports into Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill.  Both Cahill and Starks appear to blaming the
other for the city's failure to have Deputy Judge James Packard re-appointed by a 2/3 majority of the
council nearly two years ago.

Stark’s argument is that a city employee contract allows his deputy to continue presiding over cases past
the two-year legally mandated council appointment term because it states, “
until further action.” This
argument appears weak on its face.   Judge Starks is arguing an employment contract drafted by the city’s
HR department can trump the city's charter which doesn't sound credible.  

Historically, these types of matters could be swept under the rug by a routine vote of the city council
claiming authority to "retroactively" validate an appointment that never occurred.  However, the 2/3
majority required for the appointment (presumably the retroactive appointment as well) means Mayor
Gutierrez will need to find six of nine councilors to approve the measure.  If Councilman Krenning can
persuade just three colleagues to vote no the issue may require a special prosecutor to resolve.

Either way the city potentially has liability if any defendant wants to raise the matter and request a retrial.  
In the case of the liquor licenses, the proprietors can later claim they detrimentally relied on the city since it
was a reasonable assumption the man presiding over the court wearing a black robe was really a judge.

Councilman Krenning stated to LovelandPolitics in an email,

"I want the city to provide a report of everything this non judge did so council can determine what the
damage, or not is.  I also want every person who appeared before this non judge contacted, as well as
their lawyer if they had one so that the individual is aware of the potential problem."
See the City of Loveland emails between
Councilman Troy Krenning, City Manager Bill
Cahill and others as the revelation unfolded the
city's deputy judge presided over cases long after
his appointment expired.

click here to download the emails
Excerpts from Councilman Krenning's

"On a bigger scale if my assessment is
correct and indeed Mr. Packard has sat
as a judge lacking proper authority I
may ask our City Attorney to review
every case he sat on and offer an
opinion about any decision he has made.
Although we are talking about municipal
court, if he accepted pleas or rendered
verdicts I suspect each and every one
of those decisions could either be void
or voidable. This could be a real mess.

And, unless and until we can make a
determination that Mr. Packard's
standing as a deputy judge is lawful I
think his status as a deputy judge
should be suspended.


As for the $10k, I think the Mayor ran
that by me during phone calls last
week. If you believe that amount is
appropriate I don't care to second
guess that decision so I'll drop that

Please do not expend any additional
time over the weekend working on my
issues, the weather is much too nice to
spend time inside working!


Thank you,

I suspect that the City Attorney's
office is not able to conduct this
inquiry as it is conflicted. I can't
imagine any action taken by Packard
that did not also have an appearance of
an assistant city attorney involved.

Maybe we will get lucky and the only
thing that Packard did was set new
court dates, that would be a "mere
irregularities" as you have described.
But if he took a plea or imposed a
sentence, I strongly object that such
actions would be "mere irregularities"
and should be vacated and the citizen

.......concerning "until replaced."  
Since I expect that we will be seeking
a new judge soon I would like to think
that this new judge could have some say
in who, or even if we need, to appoint
as a "deputy judge."

s asked by Cslr McKean, why is this
tagged a confidential?

Lastly, please advise if a similar
"agreement" exists with Bill Starks.



This would be best described as the
"cover up " option and I will not
support it; in fact I will loudly
oppose it. As you have pointed out in
paragraph 4 of your email below, if
challenged.....I AM CHALLENGING IT. I'm
not waiting for a citizen to bring a
challenge against an action that is
illegal by the City and for which no
citizen is likely to ever know. Please
consider this the challenge you have
referenced below.

This situation is almost square with
the situation where the City went back
and retroactively approved the building
permit for the neighbor of Morgan that
has now brought us so much anguish. At
what point do we stop looking for ways
to fix (cover up) our mistakes and
simply admit them and then deal with
them? I know that the policy of the
City seems to be that the City is
always right. This is not a policy that
I share in or support.

As I previously stated, I want the City

1. Immediately suspend Mr. Packard;

2. Immediately notify Bill Starks that
the "two years or until a replacement"
language is invalid and he should not
rely on it past the expiration of his
two year term.

3. Appoint special counsel to go back
and research what actions have been
taken by Mr. Packard and report to the

If Starks and/or Packard want to
challenge the validity of their
respective contracts then they should
seek counsel and go for it. That
portion of their contract is severable
and the City should defend the
citizens, NOT Starks and Packard.