Mt. Crested Butte homeowner’s legal battle ensnares another staff member

Man claims he should receive more than $4 million for damages

Two members of the Mt. Crested Butte town staff are now involved in a legal dispute with the owner of a vacation home on the mountain.
James Maxfield, who was arrested by the police in late September after his home was raided and weapons and drugs were found, has recently made a formal complaint in Arizona Superior Court against Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick.





In the complaint, filed on October 15, Maxfield alleges that Fitzpatrick and his wife began a public slander campaign in May 2008 “in an effort to defame his character” and “to cause the local public opinion to be opposed to the plaintiff’s excavation project.” Maxfield also makes a request for $1.75 million in relief for damages. No court dates have been scheduled, according to the court’s website.
Between 2007 and 2008, Maxfield built a retaining wall to level out his property, but neighbors complained that it was an eyesore and asked the town to remedy the situation. This summer the town built a new retaining wall at a cost of $6,000.
According to the affidavit for a warrantless arrest filed in Gunnison District Court, Mt. Crested Butte police were tipped off by an unnamed female informant, believed to be Maxfield’s girlfriend, who apparently told officers that Maxfield had a felony on his record and was currently in possession of firearms. Colorado law prohibits felony offenders from possessing a weapon within 10 years of their conviction.
The case against Maxfield for the possession of weapons continues and several status conferences have been held in October, but no trial has been held yet. Deputy district attorney Seth Ryan has indicated that the 7th Judicial District may be turning the case over to federal prosecutors.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jeffrey Dorschner says federal charges have not been filed, but the office is aware of the situation.
Following his arrest, Maxfield paid bond and returned to his home in Arizona. He then proceeded to file a complaint in Arizona’s Superior Court in Maricopa County against Mt. Crested Butte police chief Hank Smith, who Maxfield alleges was also involved in a slander campaign against him. In the complaint against Smith, Maxfield requested $3.5 million in relief for damages. No court dates have been set for this case, either.
Smith and Maxfield are neighbors in Mt. Crested Butte.
On October 20 the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council discussed the recent lawsuits in an executive session. After the executive session, Fitzpatrick said it was purely an informational meeting for the council and no decisions were reached.

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