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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Erie’s New Town Charter

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Erie’s New Town Charter


Lawsuit brought by Miguel Zuniga challenging Home Rule is dismissed with prejudice

A lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the Town of Erie’s new Home Rule Charter was dismissed on June 10 after a Boulder County District Court judge ruled the plaintiff’s claims did not meet the requirements for a claim of relief. 

The lawsuit was initially filed in December 2023 by Miguel Zuniga, who is married to the town’s former planning commissioner Kelly Zuniga. It named the Town of Erie, Mayor Justin Brooks, and four trustees as defendants. 

In the lawsuit, Zuniga claimed Erie’s Home Rule Charter was unconstitutional because it extended the terms of four Town Trustees from April 2024 to November 2024 to align with the local election schedule. The charter also shortened the terms of two other trustees from November 2026 to November 2024.

Zuniga cited a Colorado statute that states in part that “[n]o law shall extend the term of any elected public officer after his election or appointment nor shall the salary of any elected public officer be increased or decreased during the term of office for which he was elected.” He also cited multiple cases from the 19th and early 20th centuries as support for his argument.

Part of the Judge’s analysis from the dismissal.

Boulder County judge Robert R. Gunning was unpersuaded by Zuniga’s assertions because “these cases are a far cry from the undisputed facts in this litigation,” according to Gunning’s order to dismiss the case with prejudice, which means the case cannot be brought back to court.

Erie’s Home Rule Charter was approved in November 2023 after 56% of voters approved Ballot Question 3A. The charter became effective immediately following the certification of the election, which happened around November 20, 2023. Once the charter was effective, the town was “constitutionally authorized” to alter the terms of its elected officials, Gunning wrote.

Zuniga argued that the Erie “imported” the constitutional provisions prohibiting the extension of the Trustee terms and was therefore bound by it. He cited a brief meeting from November 2023 where Erie’s city attorney cited the same constitutional statute to prevent Trustees from receiving pay raises after the Home Rule charter was effective.

This argument is unavailing,” Gunning argued because the statute Zuniga cited does not apply to municipalities.

“Plaintiff does not cite legal authority supporting his argument that a Town Attorney’s single invocation of an otherwise inapplicable constitutional provision sweeps the full provision into the Charter, Ordinances, or Town law,” Gunning continued.


Robert Davis
Robert Davis is an award-winning freelance journalist in Denver who writes about housing, homelessness, and poverty for several local and national publications. His work has appeared in Denver Voice, The Progressive Magazine, Invisible People, and many more.

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