Marchus sues county

Ex-building official claims his due process rights were violated

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— Mark Marchus, ex-chief building official, has filed a civil case against Routt County challenging the county's decision to fire him and stating the county has violated his Constitutional right of due process.
The case, filed Friday, asks for a declaratory judgment that the county's termination of Marchus and subsequent actions are unconstitutional and go against county policies.
Marchus was terminated Feb. 18 on allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and violated county gift polices. Marchus, who plans to run for the Board of County Commissioners in the fall, has denied those allegations.
In the past month, the county has filed a civil suit against Marchus to force him to return two missing personnel files. In court last week, Marchus said he does not have the files.
The new case, filed by Marchus' attorney, Charles Feldmann, is based on the argument that the county denied Marchus' due process rights, which say a person cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.
Routt County attorney John Merrill said he did not see the "legal merit" of the case because Marchus and all other county employees are "at will" employees, which means they do not have due process rights.
"Our position is that he doesn't have any right, except whatever right is given to him under the personnel handbook," Merrill said.
Marchus' case also asks the court to give three orders concerning the county's grievance process. The grievance process would allow a specially selected three-member grievance board to decide whether County Manager Tom Sullivan's decision to fire Marchus was made well. The board's decision can be appealed to the Routt County Board of Commissioners, which will have the final decision.
Marchus' case asks that the court order the entire grievance process be open to the public. The county has said that the first hearing would be closed to the public, but any appeal to county commissioners would be open.
Marchus' case then asks that the county order Undersherriff Dan Taylor to serve on the three-member grievance board. Taylor was Marchus' choice for the board, but he declined to serve. County officials have said that employees can decline from serving.
Finally, the case asks that Sullivan's choice for the board -- County Finance Director Dan Strnad -- not serve because he would not be "impartial."
If those orders are not followed, the case asks that Marchus be returned to his position as chief building official. The case also asks that Marchus be paid the costs of litigation and other relief the court deems necessary.
Merrill said the county would file a reply in the next few weeks.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203
or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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