County hires high-powered attorney who represented NBA star for Sheriff Maketa

By: Stephen Hobbs and Andrea Sinclair, The Gazette
June 4, 2014 Updated: June 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm
photo - Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant enters the Justice Center with his attorney Pamela Mackey, right, in Eagle, Colo., in October 2003. Bryant was making a court appearance on charges of sexual assault. (AP file)
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant enters the Justice Center with his attorney Pamela Mackey, right, in Eagle, Colo., in October 2003. Bryant was making a court appearance on charges of sexual assault. (AP file) 

El Paso County commissioners on Thursday will formally announce the hiring of a high-profile Denver-based defense attorney to represent Sheriff Terry Maketa, who is accused of alleged sexual and budget improprieties, discrimination and a hostile work environment.

Commissioner Dennis Hisey confirmed Wednesday that Pamela Mackey, who previously represented professional athletes Kobe Bryant and Patrick Roy, was hired by the county last month to represent Maketa for in connection with allegations brought against the sheriff in May.

Hisey said contract negotiations, which are handled by the county attorney, are ongoing but that Mackey has verbally agreed to represent Maketa for a rate of $250 per hour. For now the total amount to be paid is capped at $10,000 - it would take a public meeting for the commissioners to approve any amount above that.

A press conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday to announce the hiring of Mackey.

"When this first started in mid-May we had one attorney handling everything for the county, and that included the sheriff," Hisey said. "As things progressed that's when we realized the sheriff needed his own counsel."

Maketa is facing complaints filed May 12 with the county and with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission outlining a number of accusations, including that he had inappropriate sexual relations with at least three subordinate employees, including the office's comptroller.

In a related development, some citizens said Wednesday they plan to hold a rally in front of Maketa's office June 12 to demand the sheriff's resignation.

"I'm just a regular citizen trying to be heard," said organizer Rebecca Duran. "I have some people who will be there with me. It's a symbolic gesture more than anything. Anybody can come. We have no political affiliation."

Duran said the rally will begin at 12:30 p.m. and last until 5 p.m. on June 12.

The hiring of Mackey might seem strange to some citizens because the commissioners called for Maketa's resignation last week. But Hisey explained that by law, the county "has the responsibility of defending the sheriff and his employees for acts that occur in the course of employment."

Hisey said the county would not pay for Maketa's legal bills in a criminal case, should one arise.

If there is criminal investigation of Maketa, it is a closely held secret. Law enforcement officials routinely refuse to confirm or deny the existence of a grand jury proceeding, for instance.

Mackey has a glittering record, handling many types of civil and criminal litigation. Yet it is her connection with the rape case against NBA star Kobe Bryant, as well as other high-profile criminal cases, that brought her the most fame.

Hisey said the commissioners ruled out hiring qualified local attorneys because many have been involved with previous cases with the sheriff's office, Hisey said.

The decision to hire Mackey, Hisey said, came at Maketa's suggestion.

"The sheriff was the first contact and we took it from there," Hisey said.

Mackey, 57, has built a reputation on high-profile cases such as representing Bryant in 2004; the rape charge against him was dismissed.

Along with Denver attorney Jeff Pagliuca, Mackey successfully defended former Colorado Springs developer Ray Marshall against multiple charges of defrauding investors, conspiracy and racketeering in a series of deals with 11 investors on development projects in El Paso County.

A jury acquitted Marshall in 2012 after a three-week trial.

Mackey also represented former Colorado Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy in 2001 in a domestic violence case, which was also dismissed.

In 2006, Mackey represented Vincent Margera, uncle of MTV's reality show personality Bam Margera, accused of fondling three 12-year-old girls during an appearance at the Colorado Mills mall in Lakewood. Margera was convicted of two counts of sexual assault on a child, sentenced to 10 years of intensive supervised probation and ordered to register as a sex offender in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

Mackey was named Lawyer of the Year for Criminal Defense in 2012 and 2013 by the Best Lawyers in America, among top investigations lawyers in the world by Who's Who Legal in 2014 and selected for Benchmark Litigation's Top 250 Women in Litigation for 2014, according to her firm's website.

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