Trial set for county's missing files case

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A trial has been set to decide whether former chief building official Mark Marchus has duplicate county personnel files that are missing.

The trial will be Dec. 20 and 21 in front of Senior Judge Edwin Ruland, attorneys and Ruland decided Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Marchus and county officials are waiting for a timeline of when a federal magistrate and judge will hear another civil case about Marchus' termination. Marchus filed the second case to ask for a declaratory judgment that his termination and the county's subsequent actions are unconstitutional and go against county policies, but the case was removed to a federal court on the county's request.

Marchus, who also is a candidate for Routt County commissioner, was terminated from his position in February on allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and violated county gift polices by taking trash stones from a contractor. Marchus has denied those allegations.

When Marchus left his office, several duplicate files he used as supervisor files were left behind in his office. The remaining files could not be found, so the county asked Marchus about them, and Marchus returned nine that he said he had taken mistakenly.

Two other files remain missing, and the county brought its lawsuit against Marchus in late March to try to find out where those files are.

On Tuesday, before the trial date for the case involving the personnel files was set, County Attorney John Merrill said he was considering amending the county's complaint to substitute a claim that allows the county to recover actual property, with a claim of failure to return property.

Merrill said he is researching whether the county can make a claim for relief for damages caused by not returning the personnel files.

"What we've wanted all along is to figure out what happened to (the files)," and to assure the two employees whose files are missing that their personal information is not open to anyone to see, Merrill said after the hearing.

In late April, Ruland made the preliminary finding that there was not enough evidence to show Marchus has the files on the two former employees in question. During that hearing, Marchus said he did not have the two missing files or know where they could be.

If the county decides that it seems unlikely Marchus has the files, the county could drop the case, Merrill said.

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