Lawyers’ group demands investigation in potential bias at DMV hearings

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DENVER -- A group of lawyers demanded the governor's office order a wide-ranging ethics investigation into Drivers' license suspension hearings.

That action is a direct result of a FOX31 Denver investigation into computer passwords being circulated among hearing officers working with DMV. The log-ins include codes like "Can't Help" and "Get A Job." There have been complaints the passwords show there is bias when it comes to suspension hearings.

Sources say there is some disciplinary action taking place for some employees. But the lawyers' group says that's not going to be enough.

Investigative reporter Chris Halsne first made the password jokes public Wednesday night in an exclusive FOX31 Denver News investigation.  And now the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar wants answers.

Tens of thousands of Colorado drivers get in trouble every year - losing road privileges for violations that range from repeatedly speeding to a lack of insurance to DUI.

The law, in most cases, allows those drivers to get their licenses back (at least conditionally) - but only after a closed door 'hearing' at the DMV.

Our investigation raised questions about whether that process can be fair if those judging think a list of computer passwords is funny.
Made-up log-ins that read "Ha Ha No Probationary License," "Pedestrian," and "RTD OK" - are no joke to defense attorney Heidi Anderson's clients.

"They love to use the lingo that driving is a privilege, but when you don't have a driver's license you lose jobs, you lose family, people get divorced over this type of thing. I've had suicidal clients over this -- when they've lost their license," she says.

After seeing our investigation, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar is calling on Governor Hickenlooper to order an outside ethics probe which will "look into evidence suggesting systemic bias among the Department`s hearing officers."

"They wield the same power, in some cases more power, than a judge," says Sean McDermott, president of the 1,000-member bar.

The group is offended by computer passwords which attack specific attorneys who specialize in helping drivers -- passwords that combine names of attorneys with "suck, blow, and butt."

However, McDermott says it`s everyday Coloradans who should be angry with the apparent bias at DMV hearings. "The citizens should expect to be treated fairly and impartially and when you see that is not the case, that's not just a concern for this organization, that's a concern for everyone."

There is an ongoing internal investigation into this at the Department of Revenue and Governor Hickenlooper's office told FOX31 Denver News he supports that process. But we did not get an answer to our questions about whether the Governor supports the call for an outside, independent investigation.


  • Anonymous

    What took everyone so long to get riled up about this, and to launch an investigation? The conduct of DMV Hearing Officers is beyond biased. i was pulled over on Friday the Thirteenth of February, on my way home from Fedex/kinkos, in a snowstorm. i was doing 35 mph in a 75 mph zone. I was pulled over for “weaving” by trooper Richard Milner, later made famous in kaufman v Higgs. Trooper Milner had a quota to meet after his recent bankruptcy and divorce, I was the only car on the road, and long story short, i was a 100% safe and sober motorist.

    I blew a 0.000. and DMV Hearing Officer Genoways found the lying trooper more credible than myself and my other witnesses. Hearing Officer Genoways revoked my license for a year, saying I “refused a test.” For God’s sake, one of my witnesses was the clerk from Fedex/Kinkos, a disinterested third party, who attested under oath that i didn’t smell like alcohol, dfidn’t have “slurred speech or bloodshot eyes,” and that i made my copies and quietly drove away.

    I blew triple zero. I wasn’t impaired by anything, except slippery roads and bad tires.

    DMV Hearing Officer Genoways knew it, and he revoked my license FOR A YEAR! For NO REASON!

    I’m going to post the entire transcript online, along with a bunch of others people have shared with me, so everyone can see the truth.

    it’s all about money. It’s not about safety. Colorado State Troopers are funded by grant money. They have “performance quotas” and make big bucks in grant-funded overtime, every time they go to court to testilie against a safe, sober motorist like myself, who was rounded up and herded through the cattle chutes of the :justice system.”
    Google “Lisa Steed UHP” for some related info.

    I have all the evidence, and I’m about to break this story, preferably to Fox 31 Denver.

    p.S. Genoways is now the head honcho. He got promoted because he never gave anyone back their license.

  • denverprivateinvestigators

    Great article! What took you so long to break the story? DMV Hearing Officers have been doing this for years!

    You see, it’s not about safety, it’s about money. Grant funding from NHTSA and MADD.

    100% safe, sober motorists have been losing their licenses for years now, courtesy of DMV Hearing Officers, motivated by grant funding.

    I myself had an unfortunate encounter with the infamous lying Trooper Richard Milner (see Kaufman v Higgs) at the end of which I blew 0.000. Lying Trooper Milner had a bankruptcy and a current divorce to attend to, so he was out making his grant-funded quota on the fateful snowy night he pulled me over, just after midnight, driving home from Fedex/Kinkos, doing 35mph in a 75 mph zone.

    Trooper Milner lied his *ss off, and Hearing Officer Genoways went along with it, knowing full well I was a wrongfully accused, safe, sober motorist. I’m going to post the full transcript of the DMV Hearing online, so everyone can see the truth of how DMV hearing Officers routinely put their thumbs on the scales of justice.

  • Anonymous

    As a former hearing officer, I was marked down on my performance review for being “feel good” with the people who came in front of me. That means that I would listen and grant a probationary license to people who really needed one to keep their job or take care of their family. The prevailing view, pushed by supervisors, was to punish the “criminals” who had too many points even if that caused terrible hardship for them! I had to quit because this attitude was offensive. During the first 3 months of 2014, 4 hearing officers resigned because we could not go along with the pressure to be unreasonably harsh.

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