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Criminal trial date set for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters as she faces multiple legal battles

Tina Peters
Thomas Peipert
Associated Press
Tina Peters speaks to supporters at her election watch party in Sedalia, Colo., on June 28, 2022. A third person has been arrested in connection to the case of a Colorado conspiracy-theorist county elections clerk was indicted on allegations she tampered with voting equipment and posting data online during and after the 2020 election. The latest arrest in the saga of Tina Peters, who lost in last months' primary in her bid to become Colorado's top election chief as secretary of state, is her former elections manager who was arrested on felony charges of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant.

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters appeared in court Wednesday afternoon for her arraignment in the case over possible election tampering during the 2020 presidential race. She pleaded not guilty, and a trial date was set for March 6, 2023.

Peters was charged earlier this year with multiple felonies relating to election security breaches. The charges allege Peters helped someone make unauthorized copies of voting machine hard drives and distribute its information online, largely among election conspiracy theorists.

Peters simultaneously faces civil charges involving contempt of court charges. Prosecutors in the case say Peters filmed a portion of a court proceeding in her criminal case, then lied about it to the presiding judge, Michael Barrett.

Peters’ legal team had requested a deposition from Judge Barrett in the civil case, but in a last-minute appeal, Barrett’s lawyers argued that a deposition may result in accusations of bias against the judge in the criminal case. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday to temporarily block Judge Barret from testifying.

Peters has until October 5 to submit arguments in support of the deposition. Judge Barrett will then have 21 days to respond, after which the Court will decide whether or not to allow his testimony.

A judge also has dismissed a lawsuit that Peters filed on Aug. 3, aiming to challenge the recount of this year’s primary election. In the suit, Peters claimed the recount process, which used randomly selected voting machines, should also include hand-counting ballots.

But Judge Andrew P. McCallin threw out the case on Tuesday because Peters didn’t ask to stop the recount until after it was completed and the results were certified. In his ruling, Judge McCallin said that, under current election law, a judge can only consider recount challenges while a recount is ongoing. Peters first requested the recount in July after she lost the primary for Secretary of State.

I’m the Statehouse Reporter at KUNC, which means I help make sense of the latest developments at the Colorado State Capitol. I cover the legislature, the governor, and government agencies.