The couple had substantial financial assets and wife is a broker at Merrill Lynch. She was thus able to directly manipulate the couple's accounts. Despite court orders to do so, wife repeatedly refused to sign financial releases to allow husband to obtain information about their assets.
Despite wife's refusal to sign releases, and knowing that there were undisclosed assets, Judge Christopher Munch put his docket management in front of justice, and proceeded with the dissolution hearing.
Munch refused to enforce his own court order requiring the wife to produce financial records prior to holding dissolution hearing. Further, Munch would not order the clerk of the court to sign financial releases after wife repeatedly refused to sign such releases in the face of repeated court orders to do so.
Munch told the husband that if wife had hidden assets he could conduct discovery after the hearing wherein he divided the known marital assets. Division favored wife who had not disclosed all her assets.
Husband appealed Judge Munch's decision that, in effect, granted the wife the right to refuse to obey court orders, refuse to sign financial releases, hide her assets from discovery, and alloted to Judge Munch the power to divide the marital assets when the total of such assets were unknown to him.
In an attempt to cover the enormity of his actions, Judge Munch did grant the husband the right to conduct post-hearing discovery and indicated he would award any of wife's assets found to husband. However, such discovery after the hearing is inifinitely more difficult and expensive than discovery conducted in the normal and accepted manner prior to the hearing. There is also the added expense of a second hearing after such assets are finally disclosed.
However, in the manner we have come to expect of the Colorado Court of Appeals, Judge Munch's rulings were affirmed by Judges John D. Dailey, Plank, and Janice B. Davidson on February 10, 2000.
Although the appeal was not published (avalable here) it is clear that precedent has been set for a spouse to ignore court orders to sign financial releases with impunity and refuse to disclose all marital assets prior to the dissolution hearing. Only chaos can result from such sophistic reasoning.
Wife continued to refuse to sign financial releases, instead filing numerous motions for protective orders and requests for rehearing on why she should have to sign financial releases. These motions were heard by Judge Brian Boatright, who judiciously denied wife's motions for protective orders and twice ordered her to sign the requisite financial releases needed for post-hearing discovery.
Finally, on June 1, 2001, four years after full and complete financial disclosure had originally been requested as mandated under C.R.S. § 14-10-113, wife signed the releases as she had four times been ordered to do by the court. At any time the court could have ordered the clerk of the court to sign the releases in the face of wife's repeated refusals to do so but the court failed yet again in its duty. The costs to both husband and wife of this mockery of justice was immense.
Unfortunately, the case was moved back to Judge Munch and, at one of the last attempts to finally settle the issue in July of 2002, Munch blamed the problems on the husband and wife (see court order ), stating the parties were consuming scarce court and public resources by their continued litigation and claiming husband and wife had nothing better to do with their time and money than sue each other.