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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Tosses Suit Over JonBenet Ramsey Rumor

(CN) - A Colorado appeals court refused to revive a lawsuit that claims a corrections officer started a rumor about a prisoner's involvement in the still-unsolved murder of Boulder's child beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey.

Michael Rea claimed that a prison sergeant entered his cell and seized documents regarding the widely publicized 1996 murder of the 6-year-old girl.

The sergeant also allegedly started a rumor that Rea was involved in the killing, exposing him to the risk of violence from his fellow inmates.

Rea sued Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the private prison where he is incarcerated, for defamation, mail tampering, discrimination and failure to provide protection.

Though Rea also named the sergeant and a case manager, he never served them. A judge in Kit Carson County dismissed the case only against the prison company, leading Rea to appeal, pro se.

Deciding that the sergeant and case manager are not "parties" to the case since they were not properly served, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal.

"We reject Rea's assertion that the district court erred in not having the complaint served on any of the defendants until months after he filed his original complaint," Judge John Daniel Dailey wrote for the court. "The delay in service of process was caused by Rea, as he failed to comply with the court clerk's order that he provide additional copies of the complaint for service."

Rea also failed to prove that his status as a sex offender and the link to the media-saturated Ramsey murder prejudiced the trial judge.

"Because Rea's allegations concern circumstances external to a judge's personal mindset, they cannot form a ground for disqualifying a judge based on actual bias," Dailey wrote.

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